On March 18, 2022 the United States House of Representatives passed H.R.2116, also known as the “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act of 2022” or the “CROWN Act of 2022”, by a vote of 235 to 189. Democratic support for the Act was unanimous and 14 Republicans also voted in favor. H.R.2116 prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s hair texture or hairstyle, if that hair texture or that hairstyle is commonly associated with a particular race or national origin (including a hairstyle in which hair is tightly coiled or tightly curled, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, and Afros).
H.R.2116 finds that throughout United States history, society has used (in conjunction with skin color) hair texture and hairstyle to classify individuals on the basis of race. Racial and national origin discrimination can and do occur because of longstanding racial and national origin biases and stereotypes associated with hair texture and style, and this discrimination is reflected in school and workplace policies and practices that bar natural or protective hairstyles commonly worn by people of African descent.
The bill prohibits this type of discrimination against those participating in federally assisted programs, housing programs, public accommodations, and employment. The bill would require that discrimination on this basis be treated as if it were race or national origin discrimination under Titles VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, and certain other Federal civil rights laws. The bill must be approved by the Senate before it can be signed into law.
California was the first state to pass a CROWN Act prohibiting discrimination based on ethnic hairstyles, which became law on July 3, 2019. Eleven other states later adopted their own CROWN Acts: New York (July 12, 2019); New Jersey (December 19, 2019); Virginia (March 3, 2020); Colorado (March 6, 2020); Washington (March 19, 2020); Maryland (May 8, 2020); Connecticut (March 4, 2021); New Mexico (April 5, 2021); Delaware (April 13, 2021); Nebraska (May 5, 2021) and Oregon (June 2, 2021). If H.R.2116 becomes law, these protections will be extended nationwide.