NJ Could Ban Racial Discrimination Based on Hair
New Jersey could become the third state in the country to legally ban discrimination based on hair, inspired in part by the high school wrestler forced by a referee to cut his dreadlocks before a match this winter.
A bill introduced in June would prohibit discrimination on the basis of hair style, type, or texture under the state's law against discrimination.
Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, a Democrat from Jersey City, told the North Jersey Record that her "heart broke" seeing the images of Buena Regional High School student Andrew Johnson standing in a gym as a female trainer took scissors to his hair.
The referee who delivered the ultimatum to the athlete in December has not refereed a match since, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the case remains under investigation by the state Division on Civil Rights.
Specifically, the measure would amend the law so that the term “race” includes “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles,” such as braids, locks, and twists.
McKnight hopes to pass the bill, which was posted in the Labor committee, before the end of the year. An identical measure was introduced in the state Senate.
California this month became the first state to prohibit employers from discriminating based upon hairstyle, as Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) to take effect in January 2020.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a similar bill into law there on July 12.