Louisiana Legislature passes CROWN Act to end natural hairstyle discrimination

Similar legislation over the past two sessions have failed to pass

By: - June 3, 2022 5:50 pm
Portrait of a young black woman in a business suit

A dozen states have approved versions of the CROWN Act, which outlaws discrimination against people for natural hairstyles. (Shutterstock photo)

Louisiana students and workers may soon be protected from discrimination based on their hairstyle.

House Bill 1083, authored by Rep. Candace Newell, D-New Orleans, would include “skin color, facial characteristics, hair texture, natural hairstyles and protective hairstyles” as traits protected against discrimination in Louisiana. 

The bill passed in the Louisiana Senate by a 29-4 vote Friday. The House approved it with a 74-24 vote last month.

Newell’s legislation is modeled after the CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair), a national legislative effort that began in 2019 as a collaboration between the soapmaker Dove and three nonprofits: the National Urban League, Color Of Change, and Western Center on Law and Poverty.

The campaign maintains people should be allowed to wear their hair with the texture it grows naturally out of their heads. More specifically, it argues Black women should not be forced to use chemicals to straighten their hair. 

So far, 15 states and more than 40 municipalities have enacted their versions of the CROWN Act. Earlier this month, the Democrat-led U.S. House approved a federal version of the CROWN Act in a 235-189 vote, with 14 Republicans joining with Democrats to back the bill.

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Last year, multiple bills to prohibit discrimination based on natural or protective hairstyles failed in the Louisiana Legislature. Senate Bill 61, sponsored by then-state Sen. Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, passed unanimously in the Louisiana Senate and advanced from the House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations. But after Carter left for Congress, his bill wasn’t brought up for a vote on the House floor.

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Similar legislation, authored by Rep. Tammy Phelps, D-Shreveport, also failed to pass in the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee earlier this month.

The bill moves to the governor’s desk.

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is an award-winning journalist at The Louisiana Illuminator. Canicosa has previous experience at Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.

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