CHICAGO –To strengthen Illinois’ commitment to diversity and inclusion in schools, state Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago, recently supported legislation that prohibits K-12 schools across the state from banning hairstyles associated with cultural, racial or ethnic identities.
“Kids should be allowed to be kids, and they shouldn’t have to stifle their self-expression to conform to racist rules,” said Slaughter. “That said, I want our schools to be concerned with what is going in our kids’ heads instead of what is on top of them.”
Slaughter voted to pass Senate Bill 817, which prohibits public and private schools from restricting or banning certain hairstyles that are associated with ethnic groups, such as dreadlocks and braids. This legislation came in response to the high-profile story of Jett Hawkins, a four-year-old student who was sent home because he had braids. The measure passed both chambers of the General Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support and will be sent to the governor’s desk for his signature.
“Our communities are already over-policed and under-resourced. Our schools should be places of refuge from these harsh realities instead of places that reinforce them,” said Slaughter. “I am proud of my colleagues in both chambers for helping us set a more progressive and productive standard for our states’ schools.”