Last week House Bill 850 was rejected by the House Judiciary Committee, making natural hair discrimination an act that isn’t punishable by law in the state of West Virginia. The 8-14 vote wasn’t enough to push the bill forward, but advocates of the CROWN Act are making progress.
On Wednesday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed House Bill 1514 into legislation, which makes Virginia the fourth state to ban natural hair discrimination, joining California, New York and New Jersey.
The push to ban natural hair discrimination in the U.S. came after Andrew Johnson, a student at Buena Regional High School, was forced to cut his dreadlocks to compete in a wrestling match. The incident wasn’t the first act of hair discrimination in a school setting, but it did lead legislators to reevaluate laws on racial discrimination.
Last year Senator Holly Mitchell introduced the CROWN Act, which prohibits discrimination based on hair style and texture and ensures protection in workplaces and in K-12 public and charter schools.
Governor Northam says it’s unacceptable for children to be sent home from school because their hair looks a certain way. “That is discrimination,” said Northam. “This is not only unacceptable and wrong, it is not what we stand for in Virginia. This bill will make our Commonwealth more equitable and welcoming for all.”