Kaden and DeAndre Arnold, a senior at the school who we previously reported was given the same ultimatum and even informed that he would not be able to graduate until he cuts his locs, are cousins.
DeAndre’s father, who is from Trinidad, said men in his family often grow locs because it’s part of his identity and culture. Both mothers of the boys have refused to cut their son’s hair.
Bradford said in an interview that like DeAndre, her son wore locs for years in school and it only recently became an issue. Last year, Kaden wore a headband to keep his locs off of his shoulders. However, his mother said the school told her that if Kaden kept his locs pulled back, he would not be in violation of its dress code.
According to Bradford, that all changed after the holiday break and claims the school’s principal, Rick Kana, told Kaden that he would need to cut his hair. The mother said she even had Kaden’s locs tightly braided so that they would lay flat against his scalp. Apparently, that wasn’t good enough for school administrators.
Barbers Hill High is a predominantly white school, according to district data, and in a statement posted on its Twitter account, the district said it does allow locs, “however we DO have a community supported hair length policy & have had for decades,” the tweet read. “BH is a State leader with high expectations in ALL areas!”
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker announced legislation that would ban hair-based discrimination last month and tweeted in support of both DeAndre and Kaden.
“Natural hair like dreadlocks is a reflection of culture & heritage,” he tweeted. “No one should be punished for expressing who they are. The CROWN Act would end this—hair discrimination is discrimination against black people.”