US teenager told to cut dreadlocks or miss graduation, presented with NZD $30,811

A Texas teenager who was told to either cut his dreadlocks or not attend graduation has received a touching gift from Ellen DeGeneres and Alicia Keys.

DeAndre Arnold, 18yo, was gifted a cheque of NZD $30,811 by Alicia Keys live on The Ellen Show on Thursday, to help his college education. 

Keys, who also appeared on the show, is a believer of natural beauty and said she couldn't believe Arnold's story when she heard it. 

According to DeGeneres, Arnold who wants to be a veterinarian has good grades and has never been in trouble.

Arnold told DeGeneres, he would go to Barbers Hill Independent School District, everyday with his hair up and be in dress code. 

"If (my hair) was let down, I would be out of dress code."

He said it can't be in your face, past your ears or touching your collar, but girls are allowed to wear their hair down.

"If girls can have long hair, why can't I?"

DeGeneres agreed with him, saying "that's what I don't understand."

"I personally think you should wear your hair wherever you want, especially if there's girls with long hair. What's the difference if girls have long hair and guys have long hair," she said. 

Arnold said his dreadlocks is more than just hair to him. 

"It's really important to me because my dad is from Trinidad and it's part of his culture and heritage."

"I really wish the school would be open to other cultures, at least let us try to tell you some things, don't just shut us out," he goes on to say. 

If Arnold goes back to school his only option is an in-school suspension or "alternative school".

He said the alternative school is where kids who have behavioural issues, sell drugs and fight all the time go. With a perfect record, he doesn't deserve to be there.

"I am begging you, this kid is a good kid. He deserves to graduate, to walk with all the other kids," said DeGeneres . 

"He's a good guy. I just am urging you to do the right thing."

Keys said  "I am super proud of you for doing what you know is right.

"I know the school needs to do the right thing."