More than a haircut: Salon owner serving children with special needs takes legal action to operate
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The owner of San Diego’s only hair salon serving children with disabilities is taking legal action against Governor Gavin Newsom.
“Even before COVID-19 they still had to fight for their rights, fight for their therapies, and they had to fight to be seen,” tHAIRapy Salon Owner Amy Mullins-Boychak said. “You can’t just put a blanket statement on all businesses and overlook the special needs community over and over again.”
Mullins-Boychak joined the lawsuit, filed by San Diegan JD Bols in March who says that Governor Newsom’s orders violate the U.S. Constitution.
“When I have clients that are not only autistic but have low muscle tone, they sit on the floor and I sit with them,” said. Mullins-Boychak. “Or those who have OCD and they need to touch the floor and flush the toilets, we go through that process. There are so many facets to the services I provide.”
Shontell Chavez’ son was one of Amy’s first clients when she started eight years ago. For her son, Amy provides him with much more than a haircut. She provides him safety, routine and therapy.
“My child is part of the ones you don’t hear about, the forgotten ones,” Chavez said. “We can’t go outside for a haircut, it’s a sensory issue and thankfully we have always had Amy. She is our safe space.”
Amy is going above and beyond safety and cleaning protocols. She only works one-on-one with clients to ensure they have their specific needs taken care of. It’s why Bols, who filed the lawsuit, says she should still be seeing clients.
“We just need to get Amy and good people like Amy back in business,” Bols said. “She is no danger to the community, but shutting her down is going to have a much bigger psychological impact on the clients she serves.”
Amy hopes her stepping forward and taking legal action will bring awareness to an issue she says those living with disabilities deal with every day.
“These guidelines are completely discriminatory to their needs but they also go against the ADA guideline of a business being able to reasonably accommodate someone with disabilities,” Amy said.