Connecticut has become the latest US state to prohibit natural hair discrimination
Connecticut has just become the eighth US state to pass an act that legally prohibits discrimination based on hairstyle and texture in schools and workplaces. Following in the footsteps of California, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Colorado and Washington, the Connecticut Senate approved the bill – called the CROWN Act – on Monday, in a crucial step towards anti-racism in the country.
“Unfortunately, when you have hair that isn’t straight and when you have skin that’s Black or brown, it isn’t simply hair. It’s judgment,” Representative Tammy Exum, one of the politicians to champion the bill, told NBC Connecticut.
“I look at the hair of those around me and just accept it as is. It doesn’t speak to their ability, their competency, their performance, or their knowledge.”
Governor Ned Lamont, who is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming days, welcomed the news on Twitter. ‘This measure is critical to helping build a more equitable society,’ he wrote.
Standing for ‘Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair‘, the CROWN Act seeks to foster safe environments for Black people who wear their hair naturally and in other protective hairstyles –including braids, Bantu knots, and dreadlocks.
The bill was passed last September by the US House of Representatives, and now awaits approval by the US Senate. If the CROWN Act is passed, it would legally ban discrimination based on hairstyle and texture across America. (Even in the 14 states where it was filed and did not pass.)
Here in the UK, campaigners are currently working to bring about legislation similar to the CROWN Act. Although laws prohibiting workplace discrimination based on gender, race or religion are in place in the UK, there is no law specifically protecting against hair discrimination.
As a result, numerous incidents of UK students being excluded from school because of their hair have taken place.
Last year, teenager Ruby Williams was awarded £8,500 in an out-of-court settlement in compensation for being sent home repeatedly over a period of two years from the Urswick School in east London because of her Afro hair.
While in 2018, it was reported that then-12-year-old Chikayzea Flanders was told on his first day at Fulham Boys school that his dreadlocks had to be cut off under the guise of uniform policy, or else he would face suspension.