New Illinois law bans ‘hairstyle discrimination’ in schools

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Shelly Smith braids hair for Bridget Dunmore at her salon, Braid Heaven, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020 in Kansas City, Kan. Legislators in Kansas and Wisconsin are considering whether to revise their states’ anti-discrimination laws to ban bias in housing, employment and public accommodations based on hairstyles “historically associated with race” such as braids, locs and twists. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois schools will be prohibited from issuing rules regarding hairstyles historically associated with race and ethnicity, such as braids and twists, under a new law signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The measure approved by the Legislature this spring and signed by Pritzker on Friday aims to end discrimination based on students’ hairstyles.

It is known as the Jett Hawkins Law after a Black student who at age 4 was told to take out his braids because the hairstyle violated the dress code at his Chicago school.

His mother, Ida Nelson, began an awareness campaign after the incident, saying stigmatizing children’s hair can negatively affect their educational development.

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