Bills to stop hair discrimination advance at federal, state level
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Legislation that would ban discrimination based on hairstyles and hair texture has now seen advancements at both the state and federal levels.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Friday that would ban race-based hair discrimination. Dem. Rep. John Yarmuth voted in favor of the bill, while all five Kentucky House Republicans joined 184 other GOP members in voting against it.
The CROWN Act stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, and a similar measure has made movements for the first time in Frankfort.
The vote in Washington comes just over a week after the Crown Act advanced out of Kentucky’s House Judiciary Committee.
“Kentuckians have a right for something as innocuous as their hair to be accepted and respected when they are at work, looking for work, or they are in school,” Rep. Attica Scott said.
Rep. Scott is the sponsor of House Bill 31. She said it can cause financial, physical and emotional damage for someone to alter their hair to prevent discrimination.
“I wear a protective style like this because it’s better for my health and wellness to not apply heat to my hair with a straightener and comb or chemicals to my head with a scalp,” said Jefferson County student D’Ange McMilan said.
McMilan said her hair gave her confidence, but that was lost when a coach told her to straighten it.
“I was told if my hair wasn’t straightened, I would stick out and look different from everyone else. Does make me feel like the way my hair grows wasn’t good enough as it is now,” McMilan said.
Impassioned speeches from students and House members alike led to a 14-1 vote, with some emphatic affirmations.
The CROWN Act will now be considered by the U.S. Senate at the federal level, while its Kentucky counterpart has moved on to the full House with bipartisan support.
There are now nine days remaining in the General Assembly’s 2022 regular session.
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