2021.05.12 Simmons Hair bill passes senateSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Mike Simmons’ (D-Chicago) legislation to end the practice of discriminating against students’ hairstyles in schools passed the Illinois Senate Wednesday afternoon.

“We took a major step forward today in passing this bill out of the Senate and sent a message to our young people that we see them and respect them for who they are. Black youth in particular have endured decades of systemic discrimination targeting their hairstyles in schools, and it’s time to turn the page on that history. I thank my colleagues for supporting the bill,” Simmons said. 

Senate Bill 817 applies to all public, private and charter schools in the State. The bill prohibits schools from issuing policies or including any language in handbooks about hairstyles traditionally associated with race and ethnicity including braids, dreadlocks, and protective hairstyles. This makes our schools safe spaces for black youth to show up and learn authentically and be who they are. 

Simmons, who wears his hair in natural free form locs, said he’s been on the receiving end of school rules policing his personal appearance. 

“I understand what this feels like personally,” Simmons said. “I urge the House to approve this legislation and join the Senate in ensuring that the next generation doesn’t have to go through this.

Category: Press Releases

Hair 4SPRINGFIELD – Speaking alongside other advocates for Illinois children and families, State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) argued the necessity of his plan to institute a $600-per-child income tax credit at the state level before the Illinois Senate Revenue Committee Wednesday.

Simmons’ legislation, Senate Bill 2132, would create a tax credit which would begin phasing out for single parents making more than $40,000 annually or jointly filing parents earning more than $60,000.

“We have to face the reality that working families in particular have struggled through this pandemic, and targeted relief is what they need to recover,” Simmons said. “Supporting businesses is important, but any economic recovery effort we make at the state level cannot leave our working families behind.”

Mitch Lifson, Vice President of Voices for Illinois Children, spoke in favor of the legislation, citing its ability to help families in poverty in Illinois, who are disproportionately families of color.

“This legislation makes a long term commitment to our children and families,” Lifson said during testimony. “Every child deserves the opportunity to grow up safe, healthy and well-educated, and this legislation will further that goal.”

Faith Arnold, Executive Vice President of SEIU Healthcare, also spoke out on how a tax credit could help families who have been struggling with child care throughout the pandemic.

“Working parents have already had to make far too many sacrifices during this pandemic, and their children with them,” Arnold said. “This child tax credit would support precisely those residents who need the most help. It's just the right thing to do.”

Janet Soto, a resident of Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, spoke about her experiences as she chose to remain home after her child care provider shut its doors due to the pandemic. While Soto said her family is getting by, many others she speaks with who were already struggling with employment and child care now are doing so in ways deeply exacerbated by the pandemic.

“My heart just breaks knowing people that were already on the edge of needing real, substantial help, have now been pushed far over that edge, and it's going to take time for economic recovery to happen,” Soto said. “They need the support this Senate bill would provide.”

Senate Bill 2132 awaits consideration before the full Senate.

Category: Press Releases

2021.05.04 Simmons Hair bill passes committeeSPRINGFIELD – A bill outlawing discrimination against natural and ethnic hairstyles in Illinois schools sponsored by State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) will have its first hearing later today as the Senate Education Committee meets at 1 p.m.

Senate Bill 817 would protect the right of students to wear their hair in styles historically associated with race, ethnicity, or hair texture including braids, dreadlocks, and twists.

“I proudly wear my hair natural out of respect for my African-American and Ethiopian heritage,” Simmons said. “No student should be forced to compromise their identity, nor should we continue to allow young people to be traumatized like this in 2021.”

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Category: Press Releases

2021.04.29 Simmons Floor photoSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Mike Simmons’ (D-Chicago) plan to require hospitals and state agencies to gather more data in order to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has harmed LGBTQIA+ communities in Illinois passed the Senate Thursday.

Simmons, the first openly gay member of the Illinois Senate, said requiring state agencies and hospitals to gather more specific data on age, sex, disability status, sexual orientation and gender identity when dealing with COVID-19 patients is the first step to ensuring visibility and justice for historically marginalized communities as Illinois recovers from the pandemic.

“I’m gratified to see this measure pass, and I am ready to urge the Illinois House to vote to affirm the lives of members of the LGBTQIA+ communities, who disproportionately face challenges that have made this pandemic even deadlier for them,” said Simmons.

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Category: Press Releases

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