Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair

Together with the CROWN Coalition, LDF is fighting to end hair discrimination and advocating for the CROWN Act to become law in all 50 states.

The impact of hair discrimination cannot be overstated. Schools and workplaces across the country often have dress codes and grooming policies in place prohibiting natural hairstyles, like afros, braids, bantu knots, and locs. These policies that criminalize natural hair have been used to justify the removal of Black children from classrooms, and adults from their employment.

Hair discrimination is an undue burden that polices Black identity and upholds white supremacy. With no nationwide legal protections against hair discrimination, Black people are often left to risk facing consequences at school or work for their natural hair or invest time and money to conform to Eurocentric professionalism and beauty standards.

The CROWN Act would change that. The legislation demands protection against race-based hair discrimination in the workplace and in K-12 public and charter schools based on hair texture and protective styles. As of 2023, the CROWN Act has been enacted in 22 states. LDF is a proud member of the CROWN Coalition, a group of 80+ community and advocacy organizations that have done significant work to drive real, actionable change, to push for the passage of the CROWN Act in all 50 states, and to end hair discrimination.

Black hair is beautiful.
Black hair is cultural.
Black hair is symbolic.
Black hair belongs.

Black hair belongs in the classroom. In the workplace. Wherever it grows.

In 2019, Dove commissioned a study to measure the magnitude and impact of natural hair based discrimination faced by Black women in the workplace. The study found that Black women are 1.5x more likely to be sent home from their workplace because of their hair. Black women were also 80% more likely to change their hair from its natural state to fit into the office setting.

Operating in a society that devalues and criminalizes Black hair is costly. When hairstyles are banned, the alternative is often to use chemical or heat straighteners that can damage the hair in the short and long term. These processes are both expensive and time consuming. The lack of availability of Black hair products in stores and lack of Black salons and barbershops in some areas has a definitive economic impact.

This is unacceptable and it must change.

Black hair is an expression of identity and culture.

It’s a representation of history and carries deep emotional significance. Historically, Black hair has carried a profound symbolism. Cornrows, locs, twists, afros, bantu knots, and more all have historic connections to Black pride, culture, religion, and history.

"My hair has never had anything to do with my behavior or my capacity to learn, but my high school’s grooming policy denied me equal educational opportunities and extracurricular opportunities, including the opportunity to graduate with my peers."

- Deandre Arnold, LDF client

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the CROWN Act into law on Saturday, May 27.  The new law will go into effect on September 1, 2023 and will prohibit race-based hair discrimination in Texas , joining Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

Since 2020, LDF has represented clients De’Andre Arnold, Kaden Bradford, and Sandy Arnold in a lawsuit challenging Texas’ Barbers Hill Independent School District’s discriminatory hair policy. 

“I am thrilled to learn of the passage of the CROWN Act in my home state of Texas. My natural hair is a fundamental part of my identity and culture, and when my cousin and I’s access to educational opportunities was wrongly denied because of how we wear our natural hair, we faced significant challenges. I am happy that this law will bring positive change and improve the lives of countless Black people, like me, who only want to live and wear their natural hair free of discrimination.”

- Deandre Arnold, LDF client

“I am excited to witness the passage of the CROWN Act here in Texas, which will protect individuals like me from hair discrimination. My locs are a part of what makes me who I am, and those of us with natural hair should not be discriminated against because of it. The CROWN Act recognizes the importance of this truth and will now prevent other people from facing the same challenges I did.”

- Kaden Bradford, LDF client

The CROWN Act by the numbers

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States have enacted the CROWN Act or similar legislation.

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Municipalities have enacted the CROWN Act or similar legislation.

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States have pre-filed, filed, or intend to introduce the legislation.

We won't let race-based hair discrimination be a conduit for systemic racism. It's time to pass the CROWN Act.

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