As of September of this year, all Texans will have protection under the law from suffering racial discrimination based on their hairstyle. That is when the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act – or CROWN Act – takes effect. Gov. Abbot signed the bill last weekend, laying the groundwork for a Texas free from hair-based racial discrimination.
A long road to the governor’s desk
In 2020, several high-profile cases of discrimination against Black Americans wearing traditionally Black hairstyles made headlines, including a case where a school threatened to punish two boys for wearing dreadlocks. The CROWN Act aims to protect the civil rights of Black citizens to wear their natural hair without fear of punishment. It stipulates that employers, schools, unions and other entities cannot discriminate against hairstyles associated with race, including braids, locks or twists.
Also known as House Bill 567, the measure was introduced earlier this year by Democratic Rep. Rhetta Bowers of Rowlett. A similar bill died in the 2021 legislative session but passed both the House and the Senate with ease this time. Twenty other states across the U.S. have enacted similar laws.
Complying with the CROWN Act
Public entities such as municipalities should take measures as soon as possible to educate their staff about the CROWN Act. This not only protects Texans from hair-based racial discrimination but also ensures that the public entity stays in compliance with the law. Municipalities and others should educate staff not to:
- Penalize employees or students of color for wearing protected hairstyles or for having naturally textured hair
- Enforce a grooming policy that discriminates against traditionally Black hairstyles
- Make disparaging remarks or jokes about hairstyles associated with race or naturally textured hair
Complying with the CROWN Act goes a long way toward preventing civil rights lawsuits. Even more importantly, it can make people of all races feel accepted and welcome.