A milestone in afro hair discrimination

Many women have experienced hair discrimination at school, work and in everyday life for too many years.

Today, new guidance is launched which says pupils should not be stopped from wearing their hair in natural Afro styles at school, by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

Uniform and appearance policies that ban certain hairstyles, without the possibility for exceptions to be made on racial grounds, are likely to be unlawful.

Race is a protected characteristic under the 2010 Equality Act, which means a person must not be discriminated against because of their hair or hairstyle if it is associated with their race or ethnicity. This includes natural Afro hairstyles, braids, cornrows, plaits and head coverings, amongst other styles.

Discrimination can range from describing someone’s hairstyle as inappropriate or exotic through to outright bans on certain hairstyles and bullying. Many of those affected say that their schools lack understanding about Afro hair and the care it needs.

Michelle De Leon, Founder and CEO of World Afro Day said:

“Contributing to the new EHRC resources has been an important step towards ending hair discrimination, which many children with Afro hair experience on a daily basis.

“Our work supporting families, protecting children and educating school leaders shows that this extra guidance is needed. We hope that these resources will be an effective tool to clarify equality law for teachers and help shift the bias against Afro hair that has become ingrained in some parts of the education system.”

The resources published today include:

  • guidance on stopping hair discrimination, with practical examples for schools on when a policy may be discriminatory, based on real-life experiences.
  • a decision-making tool to help school leaders to draft and review their policies
  • an animated video to raise awareness of indirect race discrimination in schools and what should be done to prevent it

For more information please visit: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/preventing-hair-discrimination-schools

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