House Passes CROWN Act, a Bill That Bans Hair Discrimination

The bill has the support of President Joe Biden, but would still need to pass through the Senate amid GOP opposition

The House passed the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act on Friday, a bill that would ban discrimination against people with hairstyles connected to a certain race or national origin.

The CROWN Act passed 235-189, with only 14 Republicans voting alongside Democrats in favor of the proposed bill, KTLA reports.

The bill was initially put up for a vote in February by House Democrats but failed to pass under a fast-track process—a two-thirds majority vote typically used for noncontroversial proposals—due to extensive opposition at the hands of the GOP.

Democratic leaders then moved to schedule a later vote on the legislation that would require only a simple majority.

Supporters of the bill say the CROWN Act is necessary because Black people are often discriminated in workplace and school dress code policies that frown on hairstyles like afros, braids and cornrows.

The Massachusetts House of Representatives unanimously passed a similar act on Thursday, after two Black teenage girls advocated for the change when they were suspended from school activities for their braid extensions. The state joined more than 12 others which had introduced and passed legislation banning hair discrimination.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who announced the bill’s vote tallies, said that “for too long, Black girls have been discriminated against and criminalized for the hair that grows on our heads and the way we move through and show up in this world.”

Black women in particular are more likely to face discrimination in recruitment situations.

“The Natural Hair Bias in Job Recruitment,” a study published by Sage Journals, took a look at how Black women with natural hairstyles were perceived in job interviews.

“Participants evaluated profiles of Black and White female job applicants across a variety of hairstyles,” the study said. “We found that Black women with natural hairstyles were perceived to be less professional, less competent, and less likely to be recommended for a job interview than Black women with straightened hairstyles and White women with either curly or straight hairstyles.”

It added that “Black women with natural hairstyles received more negative evaluations when they applied for a job in an industry with strong dress norms” and the study “highlights the importance of taking an intersectional approach when studying inequity in the workplace.”

The bill still needs to pass through the Senate and faces an uncertain future given the already-widespread GOP opposition. A minimum of ten Senate Republicans would have to support the bill for it to overcome a filibuster.

President Biden has already indicated that if the bill were to reach his desk, he would sign it into law.

“The President believes that no person should be denied the ability to obtain a job, succeed in school or the workplace, secure housing, or otherwise exercise their rights based on a hair texture or hair style,” the White House said in a statement Tuesday.

They added that “the Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to enact this legislation and ensure that it is effectively implemented.”

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