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California Bans Hairstyle Discrimination in Schools, Workplaces

California has become the first state in the nation to pass a law banning racial discrimination on the basis of someone’s natural hair, including hair styles like afros, braids, twists, and locks.

On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 188, the “Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act,” that amends the Fair Employment and Housing Act and the Education Code to prohibit schools and employers from implementing grooming policies that are race-neutral.

The bill would still allow employers and schools to make and enforce certain hair-related policies that are valid and non-discriminatory.

“In California, we celebrate the contributions of everyone – no matter where they are from, who they love, what language they speak, and, thanks to Senator Mitchell, no matter how they wear their hair,” Governor Newsom said in a statement.

The bill, authored by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), states that the law would protect the right of Black Californians to choose to wear their hair in its natural form, without pressure to conform to Eurocentric norms.

“The CROWN Act is about inclusion, pride, and choice,” Senator Mitchell said. “I am so excited to see the culture change that will ensue from the law.”

Earlier this year similar legislation was proposed in New York and New Jersey. New York City banned hair discrimination in February as well.

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