simmons hb370CHICAGO – Starting Jan. 1, schools will be prohibited from discriminating against natural hairstyles traditionally associated with race and ethnicity- including locs, braids, twists and afros - thanks to a law championed  by State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago). 

“No child should ever be singled out for sporting a hairstyle that authentically expresses their heritage and culture,” Simmons said. “These policies only serve to humiliate students of color who choose to dress themselves and wear their hair in a style that honors and respects their heritage and ancestry.”

The Jett Hawkins Act prevents school boards, local school councils, charter schools and non-private schools from creating hairstyle-based dress code requirements. Simmons, who wears his hair in freeform locs, championed the law in support of Jett Hawkins, a 4-year old boy who was sent home from school earlier this year for having braids that violated his school’s dress code.

“Kids like Jett deserve to express themselves however they see fit and  they shouldn’t have to be restricted by old fashioned and often racist dress codes,” Simmons said. “We need to empower Black children to have the confidence to express themselves naturally, and give them and their families more agency over their personal choices. We still have more work to do, but I’m pleased that beginning in 2022, Black youth in Illinois will be able to wear their hair naturally in all schools.”

Public Act 102-0360, which was signed into law by Gov. JB  Pritzker on Aug. 13,  will take effect Jan. 1, 2022. 

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