ATLANTA (AP) – A Georgia state senator has filed a bill to block hair-based discrimination for people at work, school or who are seeking housing.
The bill filed by Sen. Tonya Anderson, a Democrat representing Lithonia, would protect people who have “braids, locks, twists, or other textured hairdressing historically associated with an individual’s race,” news outlets reported.
Violators could face lawsuits, civil fines or penalties, WXIA-TV reported. Similar legislation has been passed in California, New York and New Jersey, according to news outlets.
Sen. Nikema Williams, an Atlanta Democrat, said she’s working with Anderson on the bill. Williams told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that a House member approached her after she removed her braids and had her hair pressed straight during the 2019 legislative session.
“She thought she was complimenting me and told me how much more professional I looked without my braids in,” Williams said. “She told me ‘keep your hair like that, it looks so much better like that.'”
Williams said she told the House member she planned to get braids again because the style was healthier for her hair.
“Our hair is an expression of who we are and conforming is almost no longer the norm,” Anderson said.