Hair discrimination act clears Kentucky House committee

Published 9:15 pm Friday, March 11, 2022

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on a Kentucky House panel has approved a bill that aims to prevent hair-related discrimination at workplaces and schools.

The measure, dubbed the “CROWN Act,” was approved Thursday and heads to the House for a vote. Republicans have supermajorities in both chambers. CROWN stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.”

Other states, such as Connecticut and Colorado, have passed similar legislation. Two Kentucky cities, Covington and Louisville, have enacted anti-discrimination rules for hairstyles and hair texture as well.

Democratic Rep. Attica Scott, lead sponsor of the bill, explained that the proposal would protect Black Kentuckians from being denied educational and employment opportunities because of their hair texture or how they styled their hair. Many Black people wear their natural hair in protective styles, such as braids, locks, twists or bantu knots.

“These are hairstyles that have deep historical significance in my culture,” said Scott, a Black woman. “Sadly, employers, schools and places of public accommodation have restricted or stigmatized Black hairstyles for years. It strips people of their dignity and inflicts financial, physiological and psychological harm.”

This was the first time Scott’s legislation received a vote in the House Judiciary Committee. Scott, who represents a district in Louisville, has filed the bill in previous sessions.