Covington becomes first Kentucky city to ban natural hair discrimination

Covington becomes first Kentucky city to ban natural hair discrimination
Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to add protections against natural hair discrimination to the city's Human Rights Ordinance. (Source: WMC Action News 5)

KENTON COUNTY, Ky. (FOX19) - Covington’s Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to add protections against discrimination related to natural hair, the city said in a statement.

The CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act is the first such legislation passed by a Kentucky city, according to officials.

The Act places protections related to hair texture and hair styles commonly associated with a particular race or natural origin into the city’s Human Rights Ordinance.

That ordinance added a ban against so-called “conversion therapy" for LGBT youth earlier in 2020. Officials placed both acts in the same context Wednesday, saying Covington “continues to lead Kentucky in creating a welcoming, inclusive environment in which to live, work and visit.”

The City of Cincinnati passed a ban on natural hair discrimination in 2019.

Covington’s provision forbids race-based hair discrimination that denies employment or educational opportunities because of hair texture, hairstyles and protective hair coverings, officials say.

The protections were proposed by Commissioner Michelle Williams, who celebrated its passage by wearing her hair in tight curls Wednesday rather than straightening it, she told the other commissioners.

“I showed up today with my naturally curly hair, just like I promised I would. I’ve put myself out there, on the line here,” she said.

“Ever since I’ve been in politics, I’ve felt I’ve had to wear my hair straight – that’s the whole ‘fitting in’ pressure. Culturally, there are all kinds of different types of hairstyles and coverings, but people tend not to accept cultural differences when it comes to hair styles.”

Commissioner Tim Downing added, “We have a unique ability to recognize that the differences that make up our city is one of our strengths. This will continue to attract people to our city.”

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