DENVER (CBS4) – Gov. Jared Polis signed a new bill Friday, banning discrimination based on hair texture, type or style. Supporters of the CROWN Act gathered at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance to celebrate the bill becoming law.
“The CROWN Act will right a decades-long wrong: forcing people across the ethnic spectrum to make their hair look and feel a certain way to succeed,” said Representative Leslie Herod (D-Denver). “This bill is for every person who has damaged their hair with a relaxer or burnt their scalp with a hot comb, for those who have spent countless hours and dollars to conform to eurocentric beauty standards. Everyone should be their true beautiful selves, feel proud of their culture and heritage, and be celebrated for their self-expression.”
The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Leslie Herod (D-Denver), Rep. Janet Buckner (D-Aurora) and Sen. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora). The bill was introduced following nationally publicized incidents of hair discrimination including New Jersey student-wrestler Andrew Johnson, who was forced to cut off his dreadlocks to compete.
“It is truly a historic moment for the Crown Act to be signed into law by Governor Polis today,” said Representative Buckner. “Our voices have been heard and our stories have had such a positive and powerful effect. Today we stand together to say that hair discrimination has no place in businesses, schools, or our society at large.”
Last month, dozens of men and women of color shared their stories of discrimination before state lawmakers. Hashim Coates described how his manager passed him over for a promotion because of his hairstyle.
“Without cutting my hair it was going to stop my upward mobility,” Coates said.
“Our potential is not based on our hairstyle and it’s not limited by our appearance,” said Senator Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora). “The CROWN Act gives us the power to claim our own beauty regardless of what society says is acceptable.”
CROWN stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” The new law prohibits hair discrimination in education, employment, housing, and public accommodations.
“When we look at how we can end societal, legal discrimination against marginalized communities, especially communities of color, it’s important to know that discriminating against people’s hair has often been a stand-in for discriminating against their race. We’re proud to say that today that will no longer occur in the State of Colorado,” said Governor Jared Polis.
Colorado is the fourth state to pass the CROWN Act, following California, New York and New Jersey. The bill passed 42-21 in the House and 23-11 in the Senate.