By Alejandrea Brown*
The Crown Act, also known as House Bill No. 567, was introduced by Democratic Representative Rhetta Bowers of Rowlett, Texas.  House Bill No. 567 relates to discrimination based on protective hairstyling associated with race and also on the basis of hair texture.  Section 25.902 of the bill specifies “protective styling” to include, locs, twists, and braids.  Lastly, subsection B of 25.902 states “any student dress or grooming policy adopted by a school district, including a student dress or grooming policy for any extracurricular activity, may not discriminate against a hair texture or protective hairstyle commonly or historically associated with race.”  Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed the Crown Act into law on May 27, 2023, making Texas the 22nd state in America with this legislation.  The Texas Crown Act became effective in Texas on September 1, 2023, prohibiting race-based hair discrimination in Texas schools, workplaces, and housing policies.  Despite passing the Texas Crown Act, Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton face a civil rights suit for failing to enforce the Act. 
Darryl George, a 17-year-old high school junior who wears locs in his hair, faced multiple suspensions at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, a forty-minute drive from Houston, Texas.  George was suspended for more than three weeks because his locs violated the Barber Hill Independent School District dress and grooming code.  Specifically, the dress code does not ban students from wearing braids or locs. It does however, place limitations on how long a male student’s hair can be.  The Barber Hill Independent School District dress and grooming code states that hair shall not extend at any time below the eyebrows or the ear lobes. 
George received warnings from the school district that he had to cut his hair.  He refused and received an in-school suspension.  George was suspended before went into statewide effect on September 1, 2023.  George’s suspension consisted of sitting in a cubicle on a stool for eight hours a day.  The George family filed a lawsuit in the Texas Southern District Court and alleged that the suspension violates the Texas Crown Act.  The George family seeks an injunction and temporary restraining order against Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to compel them to prohibit the Barber Hill Independent School District from exposing students to disciplinary measures and punishment due to braids, locs, twists, and other protective hairstyles that are or alleged to be longer than the District’s length requirement. 
Legal strategists continue to advocate and address the Crown Act’s shortcomings locally and nationally.  Historically, efforts to create a federal Crown Act have stalled at the Senate level.  The Texas Crown Act does not specify gendered nuances of ethnic hair discrimination, as the Act often explicitly references hairstyles and textures, not hair length.  Legal coalitions have identified how dress code and appearance policies may often appear to be racially neutral; however, these same policies may also have a disproportionately negative impact on Black hairstyles and textures. 
Overall, the movement for the Crown Act has emphasized texture and hairstyle discrimination against Black women and girls.  What is notable in George’s case is that this is the first challenge for the Texas Crown Act to center on Black men and hair length.  As emphasized through George’s story, he has faced disciplinary action and suspension, impacting his education. Notably, a Yale study found that Black boys are more likely to be disciplined harshly than White boys.  This is relevant because Black men and boys should not have to choose between their hair and attending to their much-needed education.  Again, it is more likely for Black students to be suspended for discretionary reasons, like having long hair or other dress code violations which, are not predictive of student success.  The State of Texas has made great strides by passing the Crown Act. However, it is unknown how the Texas legislature and court systems will handle this newly passed bill.
 Alejandro Serrano, Abbott signs into law CROWN Act banning race-based hair discrimination, https://www.texastribune.org/2023/05/29/texas-crown-act-law/.
 Serrano supra note 1.
 Chandelis Duster, A legal battle in Texas over a Black student’s hairstyle has renewed calls for a national CROWN Act. Here is what that means, https://www.cnn.com/2023/09/26/us/crown-act-explained-texas/index.html.
 Jonathan Franklin, A Black Texas Student Sues After He Was Suspended Over His Hairstyle, https://www.npr.org/2023/09/22/1200374764/crown-act-texas-hairstyles-law-nationwide.
 Karen Attiah, Let Black Boys Grow Their Hair, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/09/29/texas-crown-act-darryl-george/.
 Franklin supra note 2.
 Attiah supra note 3 (explaining how Adjoa B. Asamoah, legal strategist and co-creator of the Crown Coalition, expresses that Darryl George’s case and others like it demonstrate why the Crown Act needs to become federal law).
 Legal Defense Fund, Natural Hair Discrimination, https://www.naacpldf.org/natural-hair-discrimination/.
 Attiah supra note 3.
 Molly Ingram, Yale Study Shows Black Boys are More Likely to be Disciplined Than Their White Classmates, https://www.ctpublic.org/news/2023-01-26/yale-study-shows-black-boys-are-more-likely-to-be-disciplined-than-their-white-classmates (explaining how the study found that Black boys are more likely to be removed from their learning environment because of disciplinary action in comparison to White boys).
 Legal Defense Fund supra note 4 (explaining how some school districts have banned specific Black hairstyles, preventing students from attending school or school events).
 Id. (explaining how research from Princeton University found that explicit bias was consistently associated with more considerable racial disparities in school discipline).
* Alejandrea Brown is the Lead Online Editor for JLI Vol. 42.