Michigan Senate votes to ban race-based hair discrimination

The Michigan Senate overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state's civil rights law that would outlaw discrimination directed at race-based hairstyles.

A 33-5 vote approving SB 0090, also known as the CROWN Act was held Tuesday afternoon. Introduced by Sen. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing), the Creating Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act ensures individuals are protected against discrimination based on hair texture and protective hairstyles. 

Hairstyles typically worn by Black women and men have been in the spotlight following instances where students and adults alike were asked to change their appearance.

"We get our hair braided, we loc our hair, we twist our hair," said Jabrail Davenport Williams, the lead stylist at Happy to Be Nappy in Detroit. She spoke during a press conference alongside Anthony and other figures in February.

The latest amendment is part of a larger series of bills that Michigan Democrats have pushed since gaining a majority in Lansing. Earlier this year, lawmakers added LGBTQ+ protections to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

CROWN Act: Michigan lawmakers push to end discrimination of natural Black hair

The CROWN Act previously passed the Civil Rights, Judiciary, and Public Safety Committee on May 18. Anthony said the move was a significant step to making workplaces and schools "as a whole a more welcoming place."

"This bill even getting a hearing has been years in the making. But as our new legislative leaders seek to better align our state’s laws with our values and the needs of our people—all people—I am confident this bill will continue to progress," she said.

Previously, a father alleged a school district violated his daughter's constitutional rights when a teacher cut her hair without permission. 

The bill next heads to the Michigan House.