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Natural hair discrimination in the workplace can affect how a Black woman’s job performance is perceived, what advancement opportunities she’s given, and what additional measures she may be expected to take to fit in with corporate “grooming standards”. Black people are left facing consequences at work for their natural hair, requiring the investment of time and money to conform to Eurocentric professionalism and beauty standards. Combined, these harsh realities are harmful to the economic security of black families, as 80% of black households are led and supported by Black women.
Natural Hair is Protected in Nebraska Schools
Black students are between three and six times more likely to be suspended from school. Black students continue to be disproportionately targeted by what presents as “race-neutral“ grooming policies- policies that criminalize cultural expressions of Black students who are already navigating their own identities. Penalizing Black hair and hairstyles is an overreach on students’ autonomy, and exacerbates the already existing barriers to academic success. Holding school districts and administration accountable is crucial to creating an equitable environment where Black students can thrive, exist, and form their own identities without losing opportunities to create their own future!
In the 2023 Legislative Session, LB 630 was introduced to codify natural hair protections in schools.
Attached to the bill LB 298, LB630 was passed and signde into law in June 2023. It protects natural hair, tribal regalia and other cultural expressions central to student’s identity.
Creating a Culture of Belonging in Nebraska Schools
In a recent report, the ACLU of Nebraska, I Be Black Girl, #FreeTheHair, Nebraska Indian Education Association and the UNL Muslim Law Student Association highlighted the need to update school dress code and grooming policies to ensure students can show up to school as their true selves.
The report calls for schools to immediately review their dress code and grooming policies to ensure all students in Nebraska schools, regardless of their race or national origin, including natural hair style and texture and religious affiliation, can fully participate in their learning environment without harm.