Texas bill would ban discrimination based on hairstyle

A group of Texas lawmakers introduced a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against people with braids, locks, twists, and hairstyles historically associated with race.

The law, known as the CROWN Act, has been passed in nine states and in the United States House of Representatives, according to the office of State Representative Rhetta Andrews Bowers, a Democrat from Garland who drafted the bill, but it was not set for a hearing before the House State Affairs Committee.

“The fundamental right to present oneself as oneself must be protected,” Bowers said at a press conference on Tuesday. “Fearing the consequences of going to work or school with your natural hair just shouldn’t happen. The worry if you will be fired or suspended for wearing a protective style that preserves the health of your hair must end.

Bill 392, which has the support of the Legislative Black Caucus, whose chairperson Nicole Collier, D-Fort Worth, would ban schools and employers from adopting a discriminatory dress or grooming policy “against a hair texture or protective hairstyle commonly or historically associated with race ”.

“For so long, African Americans have had to comply. Comply with society, ”Collier said. “Our hair tends to be naturally curly, but yet, to make others feel comfortable, we straighten our hair. Why do we have to do this? We are comfortable as we are, and therefore we should be entitled to it, we should not be judged, we should not be looked down upon as we decide to wear our hair in its natural state.

In March 2019, two black teens said they were denied jobs at Six Flags Over Texas because of their hairstyles. During Monday’s press conference, Hope Cozart of Troy said her son Maddox was suspended for 11 days from school because of the way he wears his hair.

“Eleven days of being taken out of class and away from her peers,” she said. “Eleven days of being reviewed by multiple educators and deemed inappropriate to attend class with peers.”

Aicha Davis, a member of the State Board of Education, which represents parts of Dallas and Tarrant County, said it was important that everything be done to ensure that students have the opportunity to be in the classroom, calling the proposal “one of the most important education bills this session legislation.”

“Students of African descent in Texas are overdisciplined and underserved, so the least we can do is not discriminate against them because of their hair,” Davis said.

For the bill to become law, it must pass both the House and the Senate and obtain the signature of Governor Greg Abbott. State Representative Ron Reynolds, the City of D-Missouri and others at the press conference called for the bill to go to a committee hearing and pass.

“It is time to act now,” he said.

This story was originally published April 27, 2021 13:06.