FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LITTLE ROCK -- In response to a letter sent today by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Arkansas Board of Cosmetology quickly confirmed that people with HIV are not barred from practicing cosmetology in the state. The ACLU sent the letter after the Paragould-based cosmetology school, Hair Tech Beauty College, expelled an HIV-positive student, claiming it was illegal for people with HIV to practice cosmetology.
"We're very pleased the Board of Cosmetology has very quickly put to rest any notion that people with HIV are barred from practicing cosmetology in Arkansas," said Grif Stockley, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Arkansas. "By bringing this issue to the Board's attention, we hope it's now clear to other cosmetology schools and salons in the state that it's wrong to deny HIV-positive people the opportunity to practice this profession. We also hope it's clear to the public that there is no risk of contacting HIV from receiving the services of an HIV-positive cosmetologist."
Hair Tech Beauty College dismissed Allan Dugas after he voluntarily informed an instructor at the school that he was HIV positive in order to explain why he needed to leave classes one day. In a written letter sent to Dugas explaining his expulsion, the school claimed that it could not allow Dugas to continue with his studies because of a state regulation that prohibits people with an "infectious or communicable disease" from practicing cosmetology.
The ACLU sent a letter to the Board of Cosmetology today explaining what had happened to Dugas and asking it to clarify that the regulation did not apply to HIV. Shortly after receiving the letter the Board of Cosmetology sent an e-mail to the ACLU stating that it had notified Hair Tech and any other school or salon owner that had inquired that "the Arkansas State Board of Cosmetology does not consider HIV/AIDS as a communicable disease that can be transmitted during the course of cosmetology."
A copy of the letter Hair Tech sent to Dugas dismissing him from the school, the ACLU's letter to the Board of Cosmetology as well as photographs of Dugas and Hair Tech Beauty College are available at www.aclu.org/caseprofiles.