Proposal seeks to address school ‘hairstyle discrimination’ in Illinois

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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) — A Black state legislator has proposed legislation that seeks to bar Illinois schools from issuing rules pertaining to hairstyles, saying it’ll address hairstyle discrimination.

State Sen. Mike Simmons, who is Black and wears his hair in free-form dreadlocks, says he remembers what it felt like to be embarrassed in front of classmates because of his hair.

The proposal says schools “will not prohibit hairstyles historically associated with race, ethnicity, or hair texture, including, but not limited to, protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists.”

The Senate has approved the plan, which has yet to clear the House.

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