Illinois lawmakers want to ban hair discrimination in schools

Hair discrimination could be banned in Illinois schools.

The State Senate is considering legislation that would protect the rights of students to wear their hair in styles historically associated with race, ethnicity and hair texture like braids, dreadlocks or twists.

"We've seen a lot of instances of Black children across the City of Chicago, the state of Illinois and across the country who have been traumatized by outdated school policies that, to put it bluntly, police their hair styles," said bill sponsor State Senator Mike Simmons of Chicago.


In March, a Chicago preschooler at Providence-St. Mel School was forced to change his braided hairstyle because it did not comply with school policy.

"Passing this amendment is a step in the right direction away from harmful and discriminatory practices and towards spaces where every person is able to be themselves without fear of judgement, retaliation or punishment," said supporter Aisha David, who testified at a Senate Education Committee hearing Tuesday.

Schools that do not comply would have state funding withheld and be listed on a public website. Some senators took issue with the funding punishment, saying it would hurt schools who rely on state funding the most.

The State Senate recently passed "The Crown Act" -- or Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act. The bill protects African American women from hair discrimination in the workplace. The legislation is now up for a House vote.