HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Seven other states have passed CROWN Act legislation. Crown stands for “create a respectful and open world for natural hair.” Now, some state lawmakers are working to make Pennsylvania the eighth.
Thursday, PA lawmakers introduced legislation to protect people from being discriminated against for wearing their natural hair.
“Black and brown folks are not advancing in our workplace because of our hair,” said Rep. Summer Lee.
Some legislators say it’s time to challenge what’s considered our cultural normals and standards of beauty.
“There have been countless cases where black people have been discriminated against for wearing natural hair and/or protective styles, including but not limited to braids, knots, twists, bands to knots, afros, etc,” said Adjoa Asamoah, a CROWN Act advocate
Rep. Joanna McClinton says she still gets comments at the Capitol.
“Oh Joanna, I liked it better when you did this, or when you wore your curls down, or when you didn’t have twists, or why is it this way, or why is it that way?” McClinton said.
New mirroring House and Senate bills make it clear: employers and schools can’t discriminate based on hair style or texture.
“We’re here to beat down discrimination in all forms,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes.
Just last year, a video went viral, when a high school wrestler in New Jersey was forced to either forfeit his match or publicly shave his locks.
On the federal level, the CROWN Act passed in the U.S. House.
It’s now moving through the Senate, but isn’t a law yet, so some lawmakers say PA needs something at the state level in the meantime.
The bills wouldn’t impose specific penalties, but allow these kinds of cases to be brought to court.
“The cultural, the history, the impact of this is very personal,” said Hughes.
Lawmakers say these bills do not trump OSHA, which is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.