Law protects natural hair

Polis signs CROWN Act into law

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The Cleo Parker Robinson Dance theater in Denver hosted a gathering of people on March 6 to witness Gov. Jared Polis signing a new bill into law that will further prohibit discrimination.

Here are five things to know about the CROWN Act:

1. The CROWN Act is the common term that refers to House Bill 20-1048. CROWN stands for Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. It prohibits discrimination based on a person's natural hair associated with race.

2. What the CROWN Act does is protect people from discrimination in education, employment, housing, public accommodations and advertising because of their “hair texture, hair type or a protective hairstyle commonly or historically associated with race, such as braids, locs, twists, tight coils or curls, cornrows, Bantu knots, Afros and headwraps,” states the bill's language.

3. The bill's prime sponsors were Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, whose district includes Capitol Hill; Rep. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora; and Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora.

Along with many Denver-area residents and community members, CROWN Act supporters included the CROWN Coalition, which was co-founded by Unilever's Dove brand of beauty products in partnership with the National Urban League, Color Of Change and the Western Center on Law.

4. Colorado is the fifth state to pass a CROWN Act. It follows California, New York, New Jersey and Virginia.

In Colorado, it passed the House with a 42-21 vote on Feb. 12 and the Senate with a 23-11 vote on Feb. 28. Polis signed it into law on March 6.

5. A news release states that the CROWN Coalition found that “a black woman is 80% more likely to change her natural hair to meet social norms or expectations at work, and 50% more likely to be sent home or know of a black woman (who was) sent home from the workplace because of her hair.”

Quotables from the CROWN Act's sponsors:

“Our potential is not based on our hairstyle and it's not limited by our appearance. The CROWN Act gives us the power to claim our own beauty regardless of what society says is acceptable.” — Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora.

“It's long overdue that we ban discrimination based on cultural and ethnic hairstyles … Our voices have been heard and our stories have had such a positive and powerful effect. Today we stand together to say that hair discrimination has no place in businesses, schools or our society at large.” — Rep. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora.

“The CROWN Act will right a decades-long wrong: forcing people across the ethnic spectrum to make their hair look and feel a certain way to succeed … It's time we state clearly, that in Colorado, people who choose to express their culture and heritage through their hairstyle will be embraced, not subjected to discrimination.” — Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver.

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