On Sunday, March 1, Texas recognized the first annual Texas Girls in STEM Day. The day marks a chance to celebrate and encourage the participation of girls in this state in fields related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — and is the result of House Bill 3435, passed by Representative Rhetta Bowers during the 86th Regular Session. The legislation encourages school districts to embrace programs, ceremonies, and class instruction that emphasizes women in STEM-related careers.
Texas Girls in STEM Day gives many young girls the opportunity to learn, ask questions, and dive deeper into subjects they may not have been encouraged to explore otherwise. We are confident that this will help increase participation in STEM subjects by giving names, faces, and credit to the Texas women who are currently succeeding in their STEM careers. Thank you to Representative Bowers and the participating institutions for making yesterday the first of many successful Texas Girls in STEM Days.
Image courtesy of Representative Bower’s office.
Discrimination remains an active and poisonous force throughout Texas. House Democrats have the responsibility to fight policies that oppress members of our community. It is our duty to create an equitable playing field, where all voices, religions, traditions, and races are represented and celebrated.
DeAndre Arnold’s story spurred a long-ignored conversation in Texas. As a graduating high-school senior, Arnold was suspended for refusing to shave his dreadlocks and will not be allowed to walk at graduation. Now a national icon, Arnold’s is sadly not alone. In Pearland, a high school student had to choose between filling in his shaved hair with Sharpie or suspension. A 4-year old in Tatum was given instructions to cut off or braid his shoulder-length hair, otherwise he could wear a dress and be referred to as a girl.
These school policies are blatantly discriminating against students of color, and the defenders of these hateful practices are falling back on the age old adage, “that’s how it’s always been done.” That is a pitifully lazy excuse that ignores the pain and legacy of hair discrimination.
Last week, the Texas Legislative Black Caucus (TLBC) held a press conference to announce their plans to file the CROWN Act “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” in the 87th Legislative Session. Rep. Ron Reynolds (D- Missouri City) and Rep. Rhetta Bowers (D-Garland) will be jointly filing this legislation. The CROWN Act expands the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Education Code to include anti-discriminatory policies in the workplace, K-12 public schools, and charter schools. Three states have already adopted this policy change and it has been introduced in both federal chambers. Twenty-two additional states are now considering passage.
“These conversations are just becoming public now… People in our community were having these conversations around the kitchen table or in beauty salons and barber shops.” – Rep. Rhetta Bowers (D-Garland)
Texas House Democrats fully support TLBC’s plan to file protections against discriminatory measures in our schools. We urge schools to take a hard look at their own hair regulations. Are your policies protecting students or unjustly hurting them?
Photo courtesy of KUT.