CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - State Reps. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) and Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) introduced legislation, the “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act,” which would ban discriminatory policies in Ohio schools that penalize students, especially students of color, for wearing natural hairstyles that embrace their cultural identities.
“We want our schools to be welcoming places that embrace diversity—not discriminate against it. And yet, we continue to hear of instances of discrimination against black and brown kids who wear their hair naturally," Rep. Brent said.
Under the CROWN Act, Ohio schools would be prohibited from discriminating against anyone who wears a natural hairstyle or protective article that embraces their cultural identity. This would extend not only to class time, but to athletics and other school-related functions.
“The CROWN Act is a good first step to help eliminate the unconscious biases that too often hold people of color back in Ohio,” said Rep. Hicks-Hudson. “We work for you—and that means taking on discrimination whenever it happens, especially in our schools. At the end of the day, the way you wear your hair should not limit your pursuit of the American Dream.”
In October, Cincinnati became the second city in the country (NYC is the other) to pass a law making hair discrimination illegal. California and New York also recently passed bans.
Under the bill, those who allege discrimination would be able to file a civil action in any court of competent jurisdiction.
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) previously unveiled a bill that would ban discrimination based on hair textures and hairstyles that are commonly associated with a particular race or national origin.
Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH) is supporting the CROWN Act (hair anti-discrimination bill) that was introduced by Senator Cory Booker.
Although existing federal law prohibits some forms of hair discrimination as a type of racial or national origin discrimination, some federal courts have narrowly construed those protections in a way that permits schools, workplaces, and federally funded institutions to discriminate against people of African descent who wear certain types of natural or protective hairstyles.
“It is disheartening that, in 2019, hair discrimination creates additional barriers for people of color in education and places of employment,” Rep. Fudge said. “Traditional hairstyles worn by African Americans are often necessary to meet our unique needs, and are a representation of our culture and ethnicity.
“Every day, Black women and men are forced to consider if their natural hair is “appropriate” or “professional” by Eurocentric standards,” Rep. Barbara Lee said. “With the introduction of the CROWN Act of 2019, introduced by Cory Booker, we are making it clear that discrimination against Black women and men who wear their natural hairstyles is wrong and must be prohibited.