Thursday, December 9, 2021

Hair Discrimination Bill in Illinois Inspired by 4-Year-Old Told to Take Out His Cornrows (Video)

Four-year-old Gus Hawkins IV, known as "Jett," will be transferring to another school, his mom says.
Four-year-old Gus Hawkins IV, known as “Jett,” will be transferring to another school, his mom says.

*An Illinois state senator introduced legislation to fight hair discrimination in schools after learning that school administrators made a 4-year-old boy take down his braids. The Illinois Senate passed it on Wednesday, and now it’s being considered by the state’s House of Representatives.

State Sen. Mike Simmons, D-7th District, proudly wears his hair in locs, but said that self-confidence was put to the test when he was younger.

“I remember when I was in school, authority figures sometimes would make belittling and humiliating comments about my natural hair texture – something that’s God given,” Simmons told Chicago’s ABC7. When he heard a few months ago that 4-year-old Jett Hawkins was made to take out his cornrows by his school, Providence St. Mel, he reached out to the family and was inspired to introduce a bill that would ensure state schools don’t apply dress codes to hairstyles. 

“It’s got a lot of support,” Simmons said. “I think a lot of my colleagues want to be on the right side of history on this one.”

“I support wholeheartedly his bill,” said State Senator Mattie Hunter, D-3rd District, Simmons’ colleague, who is also a sponsor of the Crown Act, a bill that would make hair discrimination illegal in the workplace. It also passed the Senate, and she expects both hers and Simmons’ bills to become laws this summer.

“It just goes to show you that diversity alone is not enough and that we constantly have to introduce legislation to rectify the systemic biases that still exist,” Hunter said.

Watch a report on Jett Hunter and the legislation he inspired below:

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