Judge rules Black teen can’t be forced to cut hair by school administrators

Federal judge rules Black teen can’t be forced to cut hair by school administrators

A Texas teen who was punished for having his hair in dreadlocks has won a court case that will allow him to start the school year with the hairstyle he chooses.

Judge George Hanks Jr. issued a preliminary injunction this week that will allow Kaden Bradford, 16, to start school and not face in-school suspension because of his hair.

Earlier this year, Barbers Hill Independent School District High would not allow Kaden to attend school unless he cut his hair. The school said it was against the school’s dress code, NBC reported.

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Kaden’s cousin, DeAndre Arnold, 18, who also wears his hair in dreadlocks was also not allowed to attend school unless he cut his hair. He refused and was not allowed to participate in graduation.

Kaden’s and DeAndre’s families sued the school district because they said the dress code goes against the constitution by discriminating on the basis of race and sex. It also goes against the teens’ freedom of expression, NBC News reported.

“If he cut his hair, that’s like cutting a part of his life. It’s his culture. It’s his background. It’s his roots. It’s his ancestors,” Kaden’s mother, Cindy Bradford, told KHOU this year.

The school district had planned to allow Kaden to attend school, but put him in indefinite in-school suspension and prevent him from all school activities unless he cut his hair, NBC News reported.

Kaden missed three weeks of classes and ended up going back to serve in-school suspension.

After the ruling, the district was required to re-enroll Kaden, KHOU reported.

The ruling read, according to KHOU:

“Although the hair-length policy is facilly race-neutral, K.B. has presented sufficient statistical and testimonial evidence that could establish, under the Arlington Heights analysis, that BHISD’s hair length policy — particularly the most recent iteration of that policy — was enacted with a racially discriminatory motive. First, K.B. has presented statistical evidence showing that, both before and after the most recent iteration of the hair-length policy was enacted, BHISD disproportionately enforced its hair-length policy against African American students.”