A federal judge has ruled a Texas school district cannot enforce a dress code months after two Black teens were punished because they refused to cut their locs.
An injunction from Judge George C. Hanks Jr. of the U.S. District Court in Houston will allow Kaden Bradford, 16, to return to Barbers Hill High School with his hair intact, reported NBC News. Earlier this year, the high school told Bradford and his cousin, 18-year-old De’Andre Arnold, they would have to cut their locs or there would be consequences.
Arnold, a senior at the time, was not allowed to participate in his graduation ceremony. Bradford, a sophomore, was going to be placed in in-school suspension indefinitely unless he cut his hair. Both boys refused because of their West Indian heritage. Both families filed discrimination lawsuits against Barbers Hill Independent School District, and their story made headlines. The cousins transferred to schools in another district after the drama with Barbers Hill.
Barbers Hill ISD officials have defended the policy several times. Last month, the school board voted against changing the policy, ABC13 reported.
“This issue isn’t an attempt to provide fair or ‘equal’ treatment to all students which was the cornerstone of the Civil Rights movement in the last half-century,” Barbers Hill Superintendent Greg Poole wrote in an editorial published by The Baytown Sun in February. “This is an attempt to force unfair or ‘unequal’ treatment based on race or culture such that a child is given preferential treatment based on his ethnicity.”
The judge disagreed with Poole’s assessment and argued Bradford “has shown a substantial likelihood that his rights under the Equal Protection Clause and the First Amendment will be violated if his motion for a preliminary injunction is denied, and he has additionally shown that he will receive either inferior instruction or no instruction if his motion is denied.”
Bradford is excited to return to his old stomping grounds.
“I’m very excited there were people at Barbers Hill that I’ve grown up with and that I’ve missed very much missed throughout this entire process,” Bradford told ABC 7. “So, I’m really glad that I can get back and get to see them again. Our main goal has always been to change the policy to where it wouldn’t discriminate against different racial groups. I’m ready to go back to school and focus on getting good grades and deciding what college I want to attend.”