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Resources to help schools implement the Jett Hawkins Law

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

In 2021, a four-year-old Chicago student named Jett Hawkins was sent home from school for wearing braids that violated the school’s dress code. After Jett’s mother, Ida Nelson, worked with the school to update the handbook policy, she continued to raise awareness about how hair is deeply connected to cultural identity and that policies that stigmatize children’s hair can have a negative impact on their education.



Nelson’s advocacy brought about Senate Bill 817, sponsored by Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) and signed into law in August 2021. This law prevents school boards, local school councils, charter schools, and non-public elementary and secondary schools from creating hairstyle-based dress code requirements, and it specifically prohibits discrimination against hairstyles historically associated with race, ethnicity, or hair texture, including protective styles such as braids, locks, and twists.


On passing the law, Senator Simmons stated , “No child should ever have to experience being singled out by their school for sporting a hairstyle that remains true to their heritage, culture or ancestry. These policies have no purpose and only serve to disproportionately impact and humiliate students of color who choose to wear their hair in a style that is traditionally non-white. I’m thankful to and proud of Jett and his mother Ida Nelson for taking a stand on the issue.”


To ensure that schools can comply with this new law, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has provided resources about the law and hairstyles historically associated with race, ethnicity, or hair texture, including:


This issue has been raised on a national level via the CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair), which would protect against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles. Learn more about the CROWN Act and how you can take action to support this movement.




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