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SPRINGFIELD – School administrators and employers would no longer be able to enact policies banning dreadlocks, braids and other hairstyles, or punish those who wear them, under legislation introduced by State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago).

“Hair styles are a core part of African-American history and culture,” Hunter said. “Far too often, black women, men, and children are forced to suppress their cultural identity in order to more closely align with someone else’s culture. This legislation would end that.”

Currently, the Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination against a person because of his or her actual or perceived race. Senate Bill 3477, known as the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act, expands that protection to include traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists.

SB 3477 follows the lead of California and New York, which both instituted versions of the CROWN Act in 2019.

Hunter’s measure comes amid reports in the media that students across the United States are being penalized by hair discrimination policies.

“We want children to be proud of their culture and heritage,” Hunter said. “Discriminatory hair policies strip them of that pride and inject self-doubt.”

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