A law prohibiting discrimination based on advanced off-commission hairstyles | Legislature

Louisiana would ban discrimination based on “natural, protective, or cultural” hairstyles, under legislation that was advanced Monday by the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure.

House Bill 41sponsored by New Orleans Democratic Rep. Candace Newell, would stop schools and businesses from treating students and employees differently for wearing afros, dreadlocks, twists, locs, braids and other hair capped to protect texture or for cultural significance.

“Hair discrimination is rooted in the belief that straight hair is ultimately cleaner, neater, or more professional, while textured hair is the opposite,” Newell said.

Dubbed the CROWN Act — for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” — the bill rolled out of committee exactly one week after that same committee killed a similar measure by state Rep. Tammy Phelps, D—Shreveport.

The measure was almost identical to last year’s measure that passed the state senate, but flopped on the floor of the House as its main sponsor, Troy Carter, passed from the state senate. State in the US Congress.

Newell described his proposal as a “compromise”. Unlike previous versions, his bill does not explicitly link hair discrimination to race.

“It’s not just African Americans who experience hair discrimination,” Newell said. “In the area I represent I have several white gentlemen who have nice dreadlocks and I think they should be protected just like an African American man or woman who has dreadlocks.”

Newell said protective hairstyles — which keep the ends of hair hidden — are especially important in Louisiana given its hot and humid climate, which can damage and break hair.

The proposal walked out of committee on an 8-6 vote, with two Republicans, Rep. Richard Nelson of Mandeville and Rep. Nicholas Muscarello of Hammond, voting alongside the Democrats. The bill then heads to the House floor for consideration.

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State Rep. Sam Jenkins, a Democrat from Shreveport, praised Newell for his approach to the legislation.

“There’s no right or wrong discrimination. It’s all bad,” Jenkins said. “And we have to make sure that we cover all the bases that we can.”

Tatum Neill, a white hairstylist from Hammond, spoke in favor of the bill and said styling highly textured hair is time consuming and often expensive.

“We’re talking about at least an hour to two hours a day to do your hair before you can go to work,” Neill said, adding that almost every woman he’s met with curly hair has spoken of a guy. hair discrimination.

Tyler Sanchez, with Citizen SHE United, a group that advocates for policies affecting black women, said for people with textured hair, “The first thing that comes to mind when we wake up is that our hair is presentable, how are we going to be perceived in our workplaces and in our educational institutions.

Kaitlyn Joshua, a community organizer with the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, said with former employers that “the feedback I received or the daily tasks I received for the day were based on how I looked that day. -the”.

Charles Barjon II, Legislative Intern at the Sierra Club, said that when black men grow their hair into afros or dreadlocks, “we are seen as thugs or violent, but if we cut our hair and comb it , we’re considered professional, and that’s a problem.”

Vote for the prohibition of discrimination in terms of hairstyle (8): Representatives Delisha Boyd, D-New Orleans; Chad Brown, D-Plaquemine; Robby Carter, D-Amite; Wilford Carter, D-Lake Charles; Patrick Jefferson, D-Homer; Sam Jenkins, D-Shreveport; Nicholas Muscarello, R-Hammond; and Richard Nelson, R-Mandeville.

Vote against HB41 (6): Representatives Beryl Amedée, R-Houma; Larry Frieman, R-Abita Springs; Ray Garofalo, R-Chalmette; Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs; Mike Johnson, R-Pineville; and Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport.