LINCOLN, Neb. – Yesterday, Governor Pillen signed LB 298 into law, which includes language that ensures students in Nebraska public schools are not subjected to discrimination based on natural hair, protective hairstyle, tribal regalia or headdress. This new protection for Nebraska students follows and builds on the 2022 passage of a law to protect natural hair in the workplace.
Earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nebraska and coalition partners released a report supporting school dress code and grooming policy updates to reflect districts’ diverse student populations. Those partners include I Be Black Girl, Nebraska Indian Education Association, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law Muslim Law Students Association, #FreeTheHair powered by Dr. Wendy Greene.
Journalists covering the passage of LB 298 are welcome to use the following quotes from the coalition.
“Our schools should be welcoming environments where all students are respected for who they are. This law will help ensure that students in Nebraska – particularly Indigenous students and students of color – are able to show up at school as their full selves, which includes presenting themselves in a way that honors their culture, traditions and beliefs.” - Rose Godinez, Senior Legal & Policy Counsel, ACLU of Nebraska
“As an organization that works to make sure Black girls can live wholly and unapologetically as themselves, we are pleased to see this legislation headed to the governor’s desk. Black students face heightened scrutiny and discipline for wearing their natural hair and protective hairstyles and I hope this is just the beginning of work to ensure Black students can thrive as exactly who they are in every school across our state.” - Ashlei Spivey, Director, I Be Black Girl
“The passage of this legislation is a vital step towards affirming the civil and human rights of students to express their identities and to enjoy an equal, dignifying and non-discriminatory educational experience.” - Dr. Wendy Greene, #FreeTheHair
“It is inspiring to know our learning institutions are becoming places where a student’s diversity is celebrated and not used to make them feel small, but proud and powerful. Students from all backgrounds, cultures and religions deserve the respect this bill brings to students, their families and their communities. Our association stands ready to assist those educators from communities with minimal diversity across Nebraska in its implementation.” - Marian Holstein, Executive Director, Nebraska Indian Education Association
“For many Muslim women who choose to wear hijab— it is a very personal decision that is oftentimes exciting and reflects a love for and visible representation of their religion. However, it can often be overwhelming when they do not receive the proper external support. I hope LB 298’s passage ensures that Muslim girls and young women who chose to wear the hijab soon feel respected and safe within their school environments.” - Jordan Mason, Board Member, Muslim Law Students’ Association