New York state now requires all cosmetology students to learn how to style textured hair.
Sen. Jamaal T. Bailey introduced Bill S6528A in April 2023 with the primary objective of broadening the curriculum of cosmetology schools so that all students, regardless of their race, have the ability to work with all hair textures.
The initiative ensures everyone receives proper attention and expertise in salons, especially in light of the beauty industry's slow progress in fulfilling inclusivity pledges made after the racial uprising in 2020, motivated by the murder of George Floyd.
“It's not only common sense, [it’s] the right thing to do,” Bailey told Allure. “It's personal.”
“This bill would require cosmetologists and natural hair stylists to, pursuant to regulations promulgated by the secretary of state, complete certain training, as well as include questions on license examinations, regarding the provision of services to individuals with all hair types - including, but not limited to, various curl and wave patterns, hair strand thicknesses, and volumes of hair - as a condition of licensure,” the legislation reads.
Signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Nov. 17, 2023, the law is set to become fully effective in around six months, providing cosmetology schools in New York State with a window to adjust their courses and overall curriculums to align with the new legislation, according to Bailey.
“In 2017, New York Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow spearheaded legislation that required New York to add a professional hairstylist to the state’s Appearance Enhancement Advisory Committee to advise on matters concerning curricula that include all textured hair,” said Myra Reddy, director of government affairs at the Professional Beauty Association (PBA).
The advisory committee advises the Secretary of State “on all matters relating to the appearance enhancement business,” and this particular law helps to raise standards for Black New Yorkers.
Senator Bailey and New York State Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, who championed the legislation in the assembly, drew inspiration from Pretlow's prior initiatives. Solages, a Black woman with textured hair, underscored the significance of the law in tackling discrimination and bias associated with textured hair.
With legislation like Bill S6528A and the CROWN Act — which makes race-based hair discrimination illegal and was first signed into law in California in July 2019 — the hope is that segregation and discrimination within salons and cosmetology schools will soon be a thing of the past.
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