MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Racial discrimination based on your hair could be coming to an end in Montgomery County.
The Montgomery County Council filed a bill Tuesday that would ban discrimination based on hairstyles such as braids, locks, and Afros. The bill, called the CROWN Act, would make it illegal to discriminate against employees in the workplace based on their natural hair.
“The CROWN Act is going to protect any resident who decides, and many of them do, to have their hair worn in a natural state,” Maryland County Council member Will Jawando said, one of the bill sponsors.
“We have over 200,000, Black and Latina women in this county, many of whom were natural hair, my daughters are among them," Jawando said. "It's really important that we say with a loud voice that one, you can be who you are no matter who you are in this county you can express yourself. And two that if you face discrimination, that there's a remedy."
Jawando said the Montgomery County Council had been receiving complaints of discrimination and that the council is the first municipality local jurisdiction to put forward this type of legislation.
The legislation is in line with what states like California and New York are doing.
“It just shows we have a lot more work to do to elevate issues like this,” Jawando said. “It's really a legacy of, you know, our original mindset in this country of racism and the dehumanization of people of color.”
Patricia Lindsay owns Textures Hair Salon in Gaithersburg and said she does hair for women who have experienced this discrimination firsthand.
“They're treated bad -- they're just not comfortable because they don't get the same pay raise,” Lindsay said. “They don't get looked at the same way, they're, you know, just uncomfortable.”
Lindsay said people will come to her shop if they’re starting a new job and usually go for a style that hides their natural hair.
“It's not the norm, especially in corporate America to have you know, an afro or plaits you see more sleek look straight with layers, that's more of the look that corporate America goes for," Lindsay said.
That’s exactly what Jawando said he is trying to avoid.
"My five-year-old daughter, when looking on TV, said Daddy why isn't my hair straight like the girls on TV? It's one of those things that breaks your heart," Jawando said.
There will be a public hearing for the bill on October 15 at 1:30 p.m.