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Potential ACC Civil Rights Ordinance Could Shield Trans Youth, Hairstyles

Photo/Spencer Donovan

A committee of Athens-Clarke County lawmakers continued to refine the language of a proposed civil rights ordinance in a meeting on Thursday.

The ACC Commission’s legislative review committee spent most of their meeting yesterday discussing a potential civil rights ordinance, something that many commissioners have wanted to pass for months. ACC officials say the current draft of the ordinance incorporates ideas from similar laws passed in the metro Atlanta cities of Brookhaven and Decatur.

In Thursday’s meeting, Commissioners made a number of suggestions for changes to the draft ordinance’s wording. District 2 Commissioner Mariah Parker asked for language to protect employees who choose to wear hairstyles like dreadlocks or cornrows. According to Commissioner Parker, "There have been a number of cases where, particularly African Americans with natural hairstyles like dreadlocks, have been discriminated against professionally or in schools, saying that things like dreadlocks are unsanitary or inappropriate for the workplace."

That suggestion was well received by Parker’s colleagues, although ACC staff expressed concern that such language might conflict with federal law, which does not address discrimination based on hairstyle, although some federal legislation has been introduced.

District 6 Commissioner Jesse Houle asked ACC staff if the language which addresses anti-trans discrimination would ban private schools from discriminating against trans youth, such as in cases where a "kid gets suspended from their private school for quote-unquote 'using the wrong bathroom,'" said Houle.

The Legislative Review Committee is expected to continue work on the draft ordinance in consultation with staff at its next meeting. A full recording of Thursday’s meeting is available on the county’s YouTube page.

For more information, visit:

Youtube Recording of 4/1/2021 Legislative Review Committee

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Martin Matheny was promoted to Program Director and Content Strategist on July 1, 2022. He has served as the Executive Producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters', and he covers local government for WUGA News. He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on Tuesdays and Wednesdays on WUGA at 10pm. 'Night Music' can also be heard statewide on the GPB Classical stream Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm. As part of 'Athens News Matters' Martin works with student interns to help cultivate the next generation of Public Media rock stars! In his spare time Martin is an amateur book binder and freelance musician who frequently performs with Big Band Athens playing bass trombone. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.
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