Philly councilmember introduces bill to make hair discrimination unlawful

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Philadelphia city councilmember wants to add hairstyles to the list of reasons that people cannot be discriminated against under the city's Fair Practices Ordinance. She introduced a bill last week that would make hair discrimination unlawful.

"As a Black woman, I personally understand how we've been forced to conform to mainstream standards of beauty," Councilmember Cherelle Parker said.

Parker noted heartening examples of hairstyle acceptance among her braided colleagues, but added there are still too many cases of discrimination — like the New Jersey high school wrestler who was forced to cut his dreadlocks to compete. 

Her bill would clarify that racial discrimination includes characteristics such as hair style and hair texture.

"It's about accepting who we are and loving who we are. For anyone who could attempt to minimize this legislation and say it's just about hair: It's not just about hair, it's about culture."

New Jersey, New York and California have similar laws, called CROWN laws — "create a respectful and open world for natural hair."

Philadelphia would be the first place in Pennsylvania with such a law.