SB 188 will protect black employees and K-12 public school students from discrimination based on their natural hair. Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash.

A new bill, signed into law by Governor Newsom on July 6, protects employees and K-12 public school students from discrimination based on their natural black hair. Senate Bill 188, also known as the CROWN Act, will prohibit businesses or schools from banning such traditionally black hairstyles as dreadlocks, cornrows, Afros and braids/twists in their dress codes or grooming policies.

The Crown Act bill, written by Sen. Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles, was inspired by a high school student in New Jersey, who was asked to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit an upcoming wrestling match.  

The natural hairstyles are now included in California’s list of classifications protected from discrimination, including race, sex, religion, color, national origin, disability and sexual orientation.  Lawmakers in the states of New York and New Jersey are expected to follow suit this year.

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