JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – State Rep. Barbara Washington (D-Kansas City) says she’s seen far too many media reports surrounding African American schoolchildren being disciplined because of their hairstyle. She said she’s also witnessed a different set of opinions when it comes to African American hair.
“My grandson has natural hair and he has an afro,” she said. “Oftentimes in the streets of New York, in one of the most eclectic places in the world, my daughter is asked, ‘Why don’t you comb his hair?’ I don’t want my grandson to enter preschool next fall and have to be subjected to anyone questioning him about the nature and status of his hair.”
Washington’s HB 2356 received a hearing before the House Committee on Children and Families on Tuesday. The bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of hair texture and protective hairstyles in educational institutions that receive or benefit from state financial assistance or state student financial aid.
She said, “I think every child should be able to go to school and feel free to be themselves so that their minds can be open to learn and to be better people,” she said.
Three witnesses testified in support of the bill. No one testified against the proposed legislation.