OLYMPIA—On Tuesday, the Senate passed HB 2602, by Rep. Melanie Morgan (D-Parkland), to prevent hair discrimination, following its strong bipartisan passage in the House.
The bill was a request from a constituent in the 28th Legislative District.
“The way Black/African Americans choose to style their hair is culturally meaningful, and it has no impact on our abilities to show up professionally at work and/or school. If we end hair discrimination, we are sending a message to our children that they are beautiful just the way they are.”
Morgan also said that the connection between black codes from the Reconstruction era and mandated appearance codes that we see in this present day are evident. In order to gain employment, black women have had to assimilate into the white culture. These policies can force black women to undergo physically harmful hair treatments that can result in burned scalps
Under the new bill, locks, braids, afros, and twists will be legally protected under Washington’s current racial discrimination laws.
California, New Jersey, and New York have passed similar laws banning discriminatory treatment based on hair texture and styles. These laws have been labeled CROWN Acts, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World of Natural Hair.
The bill passed 38-9 out of the Senate.
The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature.