NJ cosmetology schools now required to teach students how to style Black and textured hair
State Attorney General Matthew Platkin announced earlier this week that all New Jersey cosmetology schools are now required to teach their students equally in the styling of Black and other textured hair.
According to Platkin, this requirement aims to stress the importance of diversity, not only in the classroom but also in a professional setting by adequately preparing all students to be able to cut and style all hair types
The announcement comes after the state investigated allegations that the Gloucester County Institute of Technology did not have enough Black training mannequins. Non-Black students were also not required to take classes on how to cut and style Black and textured hair.
“It is very, it is necessary. Hair is not just hair. They have to know all different types of hair,” said Amy Layton – coordinator of the Beauty Professions Program at Raritan Valley Community College.
Platkin announced that all New Jersey cosmetology schools are required to teach all their students without any exception in the styling of Black and other textured hair. His office said Gloucester County Institute of Technology and the state Division Of Civil Rights have agreed that the institute will "instruct all students in the theory and practice of styling all hair types and textures, regardless of the race/ethnicity of the student,” and that at least 20% of the mannequins used for student training will have Black hair.
“It can affect their reputation; it could affect their abilities and their income if they are not familiar with how it works with different types of hair,” said Layton
As a student in this field, Ricky told News 12 that he has learned hair is not equal and it is so diverse.
“I think that you are not gonna make it out there unless you know that. I wasn’t aware of how different everyone’s hair was until this,” said Ricky.
According to Platkin, the agreement created an important baseline for how cosmetology schools across the state can have more inclusive programs and better serve customers who have historically been marginalized or denied service. Instructor Katherine Bayacheck says it all comes down to one major thing.
“I think the key is the conversation. Talk about it and educate yourselves as educators, so you can pass that to the students,” she says.
The office of the attorney general stated that the agreement also advances the creation of a respectful and open workplace for the Natural Hair Act, or Crown Act. Enacted in 2019, it clarifies discrimination based on traits historically associated with race, including hair texture, type, and styles such as braids, locks, and twists.