Local mom demanding change of school district’s ‘discriminatory’ hair policy
TROY, Texas (KWTX) - A Troy ISD 6th grader has been in in-school suspension for 10 days because of his hairstyle, his mom, Hope Cozart says.
“Being isolated from your peers just because of your hairstyle? Is nobody thinking about that? About the impact to his mental health,” Cozart said.
Maddox, 11, who has a White mother and Black father began growing out his hair to try various hairstyles to honor his African heritage, according to his mom. But she said officials at Raymond Mays Middle School told her he needed to cut his hair. Cozart said she decided to shave the sides and braid the hair on top of Maddox’s head but that was still considered a violation of dress code policy.
The Raymond Mays Middle School dress code policy which was instated in 2018 specifically forbids boys from wearing their hair in “a ponytail, top knot, bun or similar styles,” according to the student handbook. Cozart, however, says the policy is discriminatory and should be changed.
“It’s discriminatory not just to different cultures but to different genders as well,” Cozart said. “And there’s kids out there that are coming out as transgender. What if my son had said ‘I want to be a girl and wear my hair like a girl?’ What would they have told me then?,” Cozart said.
The Cozart family has hired civil rights attorney Waukeen McCoy as part of their push to change the school’s dress code policy.
McCoy said he has sent a formal letter to Troy ISD requesting the policy change and plans to file claim with the Texas Education Agency if a policy change is not enacted
“They haven’t articulated any legitimate reason to have this outdated policy to still be in effect for this school year,” McCoy said.
Troy ISD superintendent, Neil Jeter, in an email to News Ten said the district reevaluates it’s dress code policies every three years and the policy is due for reevaluation before the next school year.
“Based on the process used to develop the district dress code, I believe the code represents local community standards,” Jeter said. “We welcome constructive dialogue and input from our district parents/guardians.”
The committee reviewing the dress code policy is made up in part by parents and guardians who are suggested by campus faculty members and administrators but the district says it makes an effort to have a group that is “representative of the district in the age/grade level, gender, and ethnicity of their child(ren).”
The American Civil Liberties Union in September 2020 sent a letter to 500 Texas school districts, including Troy ISD, to revise “discriminatory” dress codes.
The issue of hair discrimination is also being heard in the Texas Legislature. A bill called the “The Crown Act” is being heard in the house of representatives. It would prevent discrimination against anyone based on hair texture or style.
Cozart says she and her family plan to visit the state Capitol Thursday April 22 to testify in favor of the bill.
The Troy ISD school board will meet Monday April 19 at 6 p.m. Cozart and other parents say they plan to attend the meeting and provide public comment although the issue of dress code is not on the agenda.
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