Virginia laws combating racial inequalities go into effect in July

Virginia laws combating racial inequalities go into effect in July
This year, the Virginia General Assembly passed a law that bans discrimination on the basis of hair texture, type or style. That law goes into effect on July 1.

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Several laws aimed at addressing racial inequality in Virginia will go into effect on July 1.

These protections include outlawing discrimination based on hair style or dress, promoting equal pay regardless of race, and expanding the justice system’s ability to investigate racial hate crimes.

“We achieved unprecedented progress this session to combat racial inequities in our Commonwealth during the 2020 General Assembly session. But the legislation passed earlier this year is just the start,” Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn said in a release. “We have seen and heard the pain of so many across our Commonwealth and country. As leaders, it is our job to listen, but even more so to act. That is why we will be building upon our equity and anti-discrimination achievements when we return and take further action during the Special Session this summer.”

During the 2020 legislative session, the General Assembly repealed unconstitutional and racially discriminatory laws from Virginia’s Acts of Assembly, which were enacted during the Jim Crow era.

Here are some of the House Bills that aim to combat racial injustice:

  • HB 394 establishes an appointed position of Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to the Governor’s administration.
  • HB 581 requires the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management to develop an online training modules, which would discuss diversity and cultural competency, for state employees.
  • HB 787 adds hate crimes to the list of crimes that can be investigated by a multi-jurisdictional grand jury. Trespassing, damage to property and assault can also by investigated.
  • HB 837 requires the Virginia Board of Education to provide guidelines on prohibiting racial bias in school dress code policies. School policies must allow ethically specific or significant head coverings or hairstyles.
  • HB 916 creates a Culturally Relevant and Inclusive Education Practices Committee, which will review and provide recommendations on Virginia’s history and social science Standards of Learning.
  • HB 1514 bans racial discrimination on the basis of hair texture, type or style, such as braids, locks and twists.
  • HB 1519 establishes a commission that will examine the long-term impact of racial inequality on African Americans in Virginia and make recommendations to the General Assembly on appropriate remedies.
  • HB 1164 expands the Department of Environmental Quality’s purpose statement to include climate change and environmental justice as priorities of the department. Environmental justice relates to the fair treatment and involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, faith, disability, or income.

“As the first African American serving as majority leader in the House of Delegates, I am personally aware of the opportunity we have to make powerful, meaningful change in how the Commonwealth values people,” said House Democratic Majority Leader Charniele Herring. “House Democrats stand united in our goal to make Virginia an even better place to live, work, and raise a family, but that can only be achieved if everyone benefits. We hear the pain and frustration radiating across the Commonwealth and we are dedicated to taking further action to make a more racially just Virginia, today and tomorrow.”

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