Texas Teen with Dreadlocks Becomes Model After Six Flags Denied Him a Job

A teenager who was denied a summer job at Six Flags Over Texas earlier this year is now working on his modeling career.Kerion Washington, 17, was rejected from a summer job at the theme park in Arlington, Texas in March. He was told that his dreadlocks, which he had been growing out for the last three years, were considered an “extreme hairstyle,” KXAS-TV reported.

"I just don't even believe it," the 17-year-old previously told the news station. "That I would have to do that just to work there. They told me that I couldn't have dreads because it's more of an extreme hairstyle.”

The teen’s mother, Karis Washington, posted a picture to Facebook of her son in front of the theme park, stating that the human resources supervisor compared his hairstyle to piercings and tattoos. Her post went viral and garnered over 20,000 likes and over 17,000 shares on the social media website.In a statement to the KXAS-TV, the theme park emphasized its grooming policy."Six Flags is one of the largest seasonal employers in the country, hiring more than 30,000 team members across 26 parks annually. We maintain a company-wide grooming code that includes standard uniforms for front-line team members and no extreme hairstyles such as drastic variations in hair color, locks or partially shaven heads," the statement to the news station read.

"We do permit braids and we also recognize that some team members may request accommodations to our grooming code due to religious, cultural, or medical reasons. We work with those team members on a case-by-case basis to address his or her individual needs," the statement continued.

After his story went viral, Washington received several other summer job offers from other businesses, he told The Dallas Morning News. He told the publication he received adirect message on Instagram from Corrie Caster, the head of development for IMG Los Angeles and a scout for IMG Models Worldwide, which kicked off his modeling career.

"I scout the world looking for talent and stories," Caster, whose agency represents models like Ashely Graham and Kate Moss, told the publication. "I didn't know his story then, but he had a lot of the physical features we look for in our models." Washington began working at a local agency that was referred to by Caster, and he had his first modeling shoot with Jones Model Management in June in Austin, Texas, according to the publication.

"The shoot wasn't exhausting at all," Washington told the publication. "It was easy work, and it was really fun."

The teen is learning the modeling basics like how to walk a runway and how to pose for photos. When he is ready, Caster told the publication the modeling agency will pitch his portfolio to IMG Models for consideration."I hope he's successful and able to have a platform to use his voice to talk about things that mean something to him, because he will be put in those positions," Caster told The Dallas Morning News. "I truly believe this story has to be told, and has to be told over and over again."

The North Star has reached out to Washington’s representatives but did not hear back in time for publication. In a statement to the publication, Six Flags Over Texas said it has since changed its policy since the incident in March. Employees at the theme park are now allowed to wear dreadlocks."Male team members may now wear dreadlocks," communications manager Sharon Parker, the theme park’s communications manager, said in an email to The Dallas Morning News. "Provided, per our standard guidelines — they are well-groomed and do not extend past the bottom of the collar."

On July 3, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 188, which bans hairstyle discrimination, USA Today reported. The Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act (CROWN Act) will protect people who wear hairstyles like dreadlocks, cornrows, Afros or dreads from being penalized for their hairstyle. The bill was first introduced by Los Angeles Senator Holly J. Mitchell back in April.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.