Montgomery Mulls Bill to Ban Natural Hair Discrimination

    Residents in Montgomery County are weighing in on a new bill that clarifies the county’s anti-discrimination law to include hair.

    The CROWN Act — Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair — was introduced last month in the Montgomery County Council. It clarifies the county’s anti-discrimination law to include hair traits that are historically associated with race, including hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locs, tight curls and twists.

    Similar laws have already been adopted in California and New York.

    “For many years, I used chemical relaxers before I realized, like many other women, the danger of the chemicals we put in our hair,” said Nicole Drew, president of the Montgomery County Commission for Women.

    Attorney and new resident Jeanette Conrad Ellis commented on her son’s decision to grow dreadlocks. She said it caused her and her husband to be concerned about how he might be profiled by police.

    “I myself have had to make decisions based on the environment. In the summers, sometimes I’ll rock braids as a protective style so I can swim. I do think about, ‘Where am I going and how will that be perceived?’ ‘Is that conservative enough?’” she said.

    Montgomery County Council President Nancy Navarro (D), a sponsor of the bill, thanked supporters for weighing in. “Little girls hopefully very soon won’t even have to think about this as they go through and shine and explore their potential,” she said.

    As part of Maryland Matters’ content sharing agreement with WTOP, we feature this article from Megan Cloherty. Click here for the WTOP News website.

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