By Bob Katzen
The House and Senate approved a new version of a bill that would prohibit any person or entity including educational institutions workplaces and public spaces from implementing any policy that would explicitly target someone who wears their natural hairstyle. The measure defines natural hairstyle as hair texture, hair type and protective hairstyles including braids, locks, twists and other formations. Only final Senate approval is needed prior to the measure going to Gov. Baker for his signature.
“Racial discrimination is unacceptable in all of its forms,” said bill sponsor Rep. Mike Day (D-Stoneham). “I was proud to join my House colleagues in unanimously advancing a bill which would ensure that Black students and workers won’t be told that their hair is unprofessional or be forced to cut it in order to participate in activities or go to work. I hope that the governor will join the Legislature in standing against discrimination by signing these protections into law.”
“On the long march toward justice, and especially racial justice, the Legislature’s passage of this legislation marks another step forward,” said Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), Senate Chair of the Committee on Education. “We would not be at this point without the great courage and strength of Mya and Deanna Cook, who as 15-year-old students faced discrimination and abuse from their high school for their hairstyles, and bravely stood up for their rights and those of so many other black women.”