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New Georgia bill would outlaw hair discrimination

The bill refers to braids, locs, twists, textured hairdressing and protective hairstyles.

ATLANTA — A bill in the Georgia legislature would outlaw discrimination against people because of their hairstyles.

It's a bill that protects people who choose to wear hairstyles that tend to be worn and even celebrated among non-white ethnicities.

The bill refers to braids, locs, twists, textured hairdressing and protective hairstyles. Its sponsor said ethnic hairstyles are too often the subject of discriminatory treatment – at the workplace, in housing, and elsewhere.

Senate Bill 61 would make that kind of discrimination illegal in Georgia – same as gender or race discrimination.  And its sponsor said it would let people be themselves.

"It will alleviate all of the pressure of having to present yourself in a certain light based on a standard or culture or even societal acceptance or norm" predominant in white society, said state Sen. Tonya Anderson (D-Lithonia).

The bill protects individuals against job discrimination, unless the hairstyle impedes them from doing their jobs. It also protects against discrimination in schools.

Anderson’s bill wouldn’t criminalize such discrimination, but would make it actionable in a lawsuit.

A similar bill was introduced by Democrats in the previous legislative session, but got no traction among Republican leadership.