SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – In order to ensure a safe learning environment for all students, state Rep. Cyril Nichols, D-Chicago, helped pass legislation that will prevent schools from prohibiting hairstyles that are historically associated with race or ethnicity.
“Schools need to be a space that is safe for students of all backgrounds to ensure they have the best learning environment possible,” said Nichols. “To prohibit certain hairstyles that are typically associated with one race as inappropriate or unacceptable while allowing other hairstyles associated with a different race is discriminatory and a terrible lesson to teach our students.”
Nichols voted in favor of Senate Bill 817, which passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support. The bill requires all non-public elementary and secondary schools registering with the Illinois State Board of Elections to prohibit discrimination based on hairstyles associated with race, ethnicity, or hair texture, including protective styles such as locks and braids. The bill also requires these schools to not include hairstyle requirements in their school uniform or dress code.
“With students facing a number of challenges in school, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the normal school environment, we should be working to make students as comfortable in their classroom as possible,” said Nichols. “Singling out hairstyles can cause unnecessary stress and ostracization for students, which is counter to our goals of giving students the best opportunity to learn and succeed as possible in the classroom.”