Special to The Dallas Examiner
House Bill 567, known mostly as the Texas CROWN Act, was designed to prevent discrimination based on hair texture or protective hairstyle associated with race. CROWN stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.
“I believe people should not be forced to divest themselves of their racial cultural identity by changing their natural hair in order to adapt to their workplace, school, or home,” stated State Rep. Rhetta Andrews Bowers, HD 113, said last year. “People should not miss out on opportunities or success because of the way they choose to wear their natural hair.”
Introduced by Bowers, the civil rights legislation would prohibit race-based hair discrimination – the denial of employment, educational and housing opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles including braids, locs, twists or bantu knots. Its senate companion is authored by Sen. Borris Miles as SB 77.
Last year, during the 87th Legislative Session, the bill was filed as HB 392. It was successfully voted out of the State Affairs Committee but was late in the session and the clock ran out.
This year it has received early and widespread bipartisan support in the 88th Legislative Session and is already on the move. It received a committee hearing and successful vote out more than a month earlier than the previous session and has now received an overwhelmingly positive vote of 141-3 on second Reading on the House Floor. Supporters arrived at the State Capitol on April 13 for Advocacy Day to advocate for full and final passage this legislative session.
During a hearing last month, nearly 100 people and organizations registered in favor of the bill, and not a single witness testified against it.
“Unfortunately, time and time again, Texans have been denied the basic right to attend and graduate from school, turned down for employment opportunities, and refused housing based on their choosing to wear their natural hairstyles,” Bowers expressed. “We cannot turn a blind eye to this, and we must stand up against discrimination of all kinds and ensure that Texans do not miss out on opportunities or success because of the way they choose to wear their natural hair.
“I am incredibly thankful to Chairman Todd Hunter for supporting and swiftly advancing The CROWN Act. I also have a great deal of gratitude for the more than 45 Democratic and Republican Joint and Coauthors on the bill. The CROWN Act is my number one priority piece of legislation this session, and I appreciate the bipartisan support shown so far by the Texas House.”
Last week, the bill received final passage on third Reading in the Texas House, with a vote of 143-5. The bill is now heading over to the Texas Senate.
“I am overjoyed with the results of today’s vote on the Texas CROWN Act. We’ve now sent HB 567 over to the Texas Senate, and all eyes will be on that chamber to join the Texas House in taking a strong stance against hair-based discrimination,” Bowers shared.
“I am incredibly thankful for the broad sweeping and bipartisan support from every corner of the State. From the grassroots advocates that volunteered to show up on their own time to testify, to the Democrats and Republicans that joined me on day one as Joint Authors and Coauthors, we couldn’t have done it without you.”
Twenty states have enacted legislation to outlaw race-based hair discrimination, such as Tennessee and Virginia, and our neighbors Louisiana and New Mexico. If passed, Texas would become the 21st state on the list.
“Across Texas, we see case after case of students receiving punitive disciplinary measures and missing out on critical classroom time due to their natural hair,” stated State Board of Education member Aicha Davis stated during a 2021 effort to push the legislation. “From an educator’s perspective, we need to support all of our students and do what we can to keep them in the classroom. The Texas CROWN Act will ensure that no student will be discriminated against and unfairly punished simply for hair that does not conform to a certain race-based perspective of aesthetics.”
Bias against natural hair and protective styles can also impact how Black women navigate the hiring process. Hair discrimination has led Black women to have a negative experience or outcomes within the workplace. And young Black professionals are feeling the pressure from hair discrimination the most, according to The New CROWN 2023 Workplace Research Study, co-commissioned by Dove and LinkedIn, supporters of the bill.
Overall, the study revealed the following about Black women:
- Black women with coily or textured hair are twice as likely to experience microaggressions in the workplace than Black women with straight hair.
- About 66% (2/3) have changed their hair for a job interview – 41% changed from curly to straight.
- 54% are more likely to feel like they must have a straight hair style on a job interview to be hired.
- 25% of Black women believe they have been denied a job interview because of their hair, which is even higher for women under 34 (1/3).
- Over 20% of Black women between the ages of 25 at 34 have been asked to leave the work place because of their hair.
- 44% of Black women under age 34 feel compelled wear their hair straight to take a headshot.
Dove co-founded the CROWN Coalition in 2019 alongside nonprofits including the National Urban League, Color of Change and Western Center on Law and Poverty to advance anti-hair discrimination legislation and create a more equitable and inclusive beauty experience for Black women and girls. Since then, it has grown to an alliance of more than 100 organizations that work together to pass The CROWN Act.
“While talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not,” said Rosanna Durruthy, Global Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at LinkedIn. “Cultural identifiers, like hair, are not determining factors for someone’s skills or experience, and no one should be denied employment opportunities or professional advancement because of their hair. As Dove works to change legislation, LinkedIn is working to change workplace behavior by training and educating one million hiring managers and human resources professionals on inclusive and equitable business practices. The mission of ending race-based hair discrimination is critically important to our own desire to make work, work better for everyone.”