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Covington bans natural hair discrimination


Oct. 29, 2020

On Tuesday, Covington became the first city in Kentucky to adopt protections from discrimination related to hair texture and hairstyles commonly associated with a particular race or natural origin.
Officials said the Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 to add the provisions of The CROWN Act – an acronym that stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” – into the City’s Human Rights Ordinance.
The provision forbids race-based hair discrimination that denies employment or educational opportunities because of hair texture, hairstyles, and protective hair coverings, officials said.
“I showed up today with my naturally curly hair, just like I promised I would. I’ve put myself out there, on the line here,” said Commissioner Michelle Williams, who proposed the protection.
She wore her hair natural to celebrate the provisions' anticipated passage.
“Ever since I’ve been in politics, I’ve felt I’ve had to wear my hair straight – that’s the whole ‘fitting in’ pressure,” Williams said. “Culturally, there are all kinds of different types of hairstyles and coverings, but people tend not to accept cultural differences when it comes to hair styles.”
In 2019, Cincinnati City Council voted 7-1 to add a similar ordinance, which made it illegal to discriminate against people with natural hair. The ordinance's sponsor, councilman Chris Seelbach, called it "one more step along an important path toward leveling the playing field in the community."
Kentucky State Rep. Attica Scott has also proposed statewide legislation to ban discrimination on natural hair.
“We have a unique ability to recognize that the differences that make up our city is one of our strengths,” Covington Commissioner Tim Downing said. “This will continue to attract people to our city.”
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