Georgia lawmaker files bill to end ‘hair-based discrimination’

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The issue of hair discrimination has been getting a lot of attention lately.

Just this week, Texas high school student Deandre Arnold was suspended and told he wouldn’t be able to walk at graduation if he didn’t cut his dreadlocks.

Arnold’s parents are fighting the district’s decision which is based on a policy that didn’t even exist until after the holiday break.

“Let’s stop with the dress code. This is not about dress code. This is about policing black boys,” said one of Arnold’s supporters at a recent school board meeting.

Increasingly, black people are wearing their hair in styles that are more natural for its texture.

Savannah resident Nazira Brown, who wears her hair natural, said: “Sometimes you have people who just come up to you and are like touching it and are like ‘Oh your hair is so pretty, but have you ever thought about straightening it?'”

Brown says she stopped using chemical straighteners years ago because it wasn’t good for her hair or scalp.

“I just let my hair grow as it was growing, and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger and I love it,” she said. “I mean, it makes me comfortable. It makes me proud to be who I am.”

That kind of pride is at the root of a bill filed by Georgia State Senator Tonya Anderson.

If passed, it would protect people from discrimination, at work and school, based on hairstyles that are historically associated with an individual’s race.

Violators could face lawsuits, civil fines or other penalties.

Similar hair discrimination laws have been passed in California, New York and New Jersey.

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