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California becomes first US state to ban hair discrimination

CHANGE: The CROWN Act

CALIFORNIA HAS made history as the first US state to ban discrimination against black hairstyles including locs, braids and twists.

The law, entitled the CROWN Act was signed on Wednesday (Jul 3) by the state governor Gavin Newsom, making it illegal to discriminate against natural black hairstyles in schools and workplaces.

This comes after years of nationwide reports of African American students being sent home or banned from participating in activities over braids and natural hairstyles, as many claimed it violated dress code rules.

"We are changing the course of history, hopefully, across this country by acknowledging that what has been defined as professional hairstyles and attire in the workplace has historically been based on a Euro-centric model - based on straight hair," said Holly Mitchell, the state senator who introduced the bill.

Lawmakers in New York and New Jersey have now introduced similar versions of the CROWN Act, however Newsom said he’s proud to lead the nation by being the first to sign into the law.

"There's a human element to this. We don't want to diminish people, we don't want to demean people … We have to own up to the sins of the past," Newsom said. "I hope that folks are paying attention all across this country."

The law will take effect on January 1.

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