Trenton – The “Create a Respectful and Open Workspace for Natural Hair Act” or CROWN Act, sponsored by Senator Sandra B. Cunningham, Senator Nia Gill and Senator Shirley Turner, cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday.
“Hair discrimination has gone on for centuries and should have been made illegal long ago,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “Still, it is refreshing to see states around the country moving legislation to write it into our discrimination laws. It’s a shame it even has to be written, but no one’s ability to progress in society should be contingent on how they choose to wear their hair.”
The bill, S-3945, would prohibit discrimination on the basis of hair style, type or texture under the Law Against Discrimination. It would amend the Law Against Discrimination so the term “race” includes traits historically associated with race. This would include but would not be limited to hair texture, hair type and protective hairstyles.
“No one should be discriminated against and this bill protects the civil rights of all peoples,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic).
Under the bill, the term protective hairstyles would include, but would not be limited to, braids, locks and twists. The bill is modeled after California’s CROWN Act.
“In the last few years, we have seen several cases in New Jersey and around the country of children being told to leave school, or being denied participation in extracurricular activities because of how they choose to wear their hair,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “Policies like this send a harmful and shameful message to students that embracing their culture and expressing that through their hairstyle is somehow unacceptable. Policies rooted in hair discrimination have no place in our schools or our workplaces.”
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 10-1.