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Senate Approves Cunningham, Gill, Turner CROWN Act

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, was approved by the Senate today.

“The idea that someone could be dismissed from school or denied employment for wearing their hair exactly how it grows is mindboggling, but unfortunately that has been the case for black and brown individuals for far too long,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “I am grateful to be a part of the national movement to put an end to this discriminatory practice and ensure people of color are free to wear their hair however they feel best represents them, whether that be locks, braids, twists or curls. No one should be told it is ‘unprofessional’ to embrace their culture.”

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.

“We should not tolerate discrimination in any form 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 where children were sent home from school, or denied participation in extracurricular activities because of how they choose to wear their hair,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “Hair discrimination policies, rooted in Eurocentric beauty standards, have no place in our schools or our workplaces. It is time we get rid of them once and for all.”

“Today’s passage of the CROWN Act marks a historic step in banning a culture of discrimination against black hair,” said Senator Cory Booker. “Hair discrimination is a civil rights violation and we must stop reinforcing racism and biases against black hair.”

The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 37-1.