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Legislators pass bill to end hair and skin color discrimination
Rep. Candace Newell's bill protects workers from skin color, facial characteristics, hair texture, natural and protective hairstyles discrimination. It passed after two years of similar bills failing.
Louisiana students and workers may soon be protected from discrimination based on their personal traits and hairstyle.
House Bill 1083, authored by Rep. Candace Newell, D-New Orleans, would include “skin color, facial characteristics, hair texture, natural hairstyles and protective hairstyles” as traits protected against discrimination in Louisiana.
The bill passed in the Louisiana Senate by a 29-4 vote on June, following House approval of 74-24 last month.
Newell’s legislation is modeled after the CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair), a national legislative effort that began in 2019 as a collaboration between the soapmaker Dove and three nonprofits: the National Urban League, Color Of Change, and Western Center on Law and Poverty.
The campaign maintains people should be allowed to wear their hair with the texture it grows naturally out of their heads. More specifically, it argues Black women should not be forced to use chemicals to straighten their hair.
So far, 15 states and more than 40 municipalities have enacted their versions of the CROWN Act. Earlier this month, the Democrat-led U.S. House approved a federal version of the CROWN Act in a 235-189 vote, with 14 Republicans joining with Democrats to back the bill. It now moves to the governor’s desk.
Last year, multiple bills to prohibit discrimination based on natural or protective hairstyles failed in the Louisiana Legislature. Senate Bill 61, sponsored by then-state Sen. Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, passed unanimously in the Louisiana Senate and advanced from the House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations. But after Carter left for Congress, his bill wasn’t brought up for a vote on the House floor.
Similar legislation, authored by Rep. Tammy Phelps, D-Shreveport, also failed to pass in the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee earlier this month.