Tennessee Senate Passed Bill to Bar Discrimination Based on Certain Hairstyles; House Deferred to 2022

The Tennessee Senate passed a bill determining that discrimination shouldn’t occur based on certain hairstyles. The “CROWN Act: Creating Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” would place “protective hairstyle,” a reference to styling of Afro-textured hair, within the Human Rights chapter of the Tennessee Code. Ultimately, the bill would prevent discrimination based on hairstyles such as braids, dreadlocks, cornrows, or Afros. Enactment of this legislation likely won’t come soon, however: the Tennessee House deferred action on this bill until 2022.

State Senator Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) first introduced the CROWN Act, but the idea didn’t originate with her. A coalition dedicated to ending “hair discrimination” is advancing this type of legislation throughout the country. The coalition consists of Dove, the personal care brand, and several social justice organizations: National Urban League, Color of Change, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty. However, the Tennessee Senate version differs slightly from the model legislation. Tennessee senators struck a provision including race as a factor for determining discrimination.

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