Utah committee flies through hearing on race-based hair discrimination


That is the second 12 months Sen. Derek Kitchen is bringing ahead an effort so as to add hairstyles to discrimination protections.

(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file picture) l-r Sen. Kathleen Riebe, D-Cottonwood Heights and Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake Metropolis, through the Legislative session Jan. 28, 2022.

A invoice aimed toward stopping race-based coiffure discrimination has hit a roadblock within the Utah Legislature for the second 12 months operating.

This time round, although, lawmakers set the invoice apart after fewer than 10 minutes of committee consideration. Members of the Senate Enterprise and Labor Committee gave no rationalization for why they determined in opposition to shifting the laws to the ground however stated they needed to hurry by way of the listening to due to a crowded assembly agenda.

Sen. Derek Kitchen’s invoice, SB117, would add “protecting hairstyles” equivalent to braids, locks, Afros, curls and twists to the definition of race and prohibit employment discrimination on these grounds.

A number of individuals at Monday’s committee listening to testified that the measure would assist stop race-based grooming insurance policies within the office and will ship a message to younger individuals of coloration who’re experiencing bullying in Utah colleges.

One Logan lady testified that she’s had colleagues make racist feedback about her look, together with her hair.

“That anybody needs to be made to really feel that part of their physique is just not complete with out change, that it must be remade … effectively, I don’t consider that is reflective of our shared values,” she instructed the committee.

Alyssha Dairsow, government director of Curly Me!, a nonprofit that serves Black women in Utah, stated she’s heard from a lot of younger individuals who have been bullied over their hair.

“We wish them to method faculty with confidence and the braveness to face up not just for themselves, however for each other,” Dairsow stated. “We need to make it possible for this invoice displays, as they develop up, they’ll get jobs and be productive residents of the state of Utah.”

Greater than a dozen different states have adopted payments just like the one Kitchen, D-Salt Lake Metropolis, is operating.

Final 12 months, the invoice failed to maneuver ahead within the Legislature after a tied committee vote on the proposal. One of many committee members, Sen. Derrin Owens, drew criticism for a number of of his remarks throughout that listening to — together with telling a number of Black ladies that “you persons are stunning” and attempting to indicate different lawmakers a photograph he’d taken of two Black youngsters he’d just lately met in a grocery retailer.

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