Texas Lawmaker Seeks to Deregulate Hair Braiding

Hair Braiding - AP Photo - Danny Johnston
AP PHOTO/Danny Johnston

The controversial regulations that have surrounded the ancient art of African hair braiding in Texas may be coming to an end through proposed legislation would eliminate the current licensing requirements. Rep. Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth) filed a bill in the Texas State House that would eradicate the need for such regulations altogether. House Bill 2717 would permit someone to do natural hair braiding without needing a license to do so.

According to the House of Representatives Notice of Public Hearing, the Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee, lawmakers in Austin will hear the details of Goldman’s bill on Monday afternoon, April 6.

In January, Breitbart Texas reported that a federal judge in Austin tossed out the Texas regulations that prohibited African-style hair braiders from teaching their skills unless they complied with all the requirements of barber schools. The judge’s decision allowed braiding art to be taught without meeting state requirements to set up a formal barber college.

His ruling was prompted by a longstanding legal battle initiated by Dallas stylist Iris Brantley, who is considered one of the nation’s top experts on African hair braiding techniques and styles, and counts celebrities like singer Erykah Badu among her clients.

The Dallas Morning News reported that she is the owner of the Institute of Ancestral Braiding and the founder of the Naturally Isis Natural hair parade. Previously, Brantley was quoted by the Dallas Morning News as saying that hair braiding was more than just “doing hair,” but an art form and part of a deep cultural history.

Brantley was embroiled in a 20-year battle over the definition of barbering law that even included her arrest, yet she fought fervently to change the law over the years. A 2007 bill made it possible for her to continue doing business, but made in nearly impossible for her to teach her skills to any students.

There is a senate side companion bill that is identical to HB 2717. Authored by Royce West (D-Dallas), that proposed bill is SB 1193.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.