Bill seeks to prevent hairstyle discrimination in Utah
SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah senator hopes his bill to protect people from discrimination over their choice of hairstyle makes the state more inclusive.
Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, sponsored the bill, S.B. 117, which would protect a person from discrimination, especially firing, over a hairstyle typically associated with their race or ethnicity.
The bill would cover “afros, locks, Bantu knots, things of that nature,” Kitchen said.
According to Kitchen, Black women in particular face discrimination over their choice of hairstyle in the workplace. Frequently, that means conforming to standards that go against their identity and cultural heritage, he said.
“So with Black History Month right now, we have an opportunity as a state to show the community at large that we protect you and that you are welcome here,” Kitchen said.
Kitchen tried to amend the state’s anti-discrimination laws to include hairstyle in the last legislative session. That version of the bill failed to pass.
The effort stems from a nationwide push known as the CROWN Act, Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. It aims to establish anti-discrimination rules covering hairstyle choices in all 50 states. The effort represents a collaboration between Dove, the National Urban League, Color of Change, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty.
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