Bill would pro­tect nat­u­ral hair­styles

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Steven Le­mon­gello

Peo­ple who wear African Amer­i­can hair­styles, in­clud­ing nat­u­ral, dread­locks, twists, corn­rows and braids, would be pro­tected from dis­crim­i­na­tion in schools and at work un­der a bill pro­posed by a state sen­a­tor from Or­lando.

The Florida CROWN Act, which stands for Cre­at­ing a Re­spect­ful and Open World for

Nat­u­ral hair, “is an es­sen­tial part of a na­tional move­ment to ac­knowl­edge the cul­tural and so­cial man­i­fes­ta­tions of racial iden­tity, and to up­hold our shared val­ues of eq­uity and fair­ness,” said Demo­cratic Sen. Ran­dolph Bracy at a news con­fer­ence Friday at the Ch­eryl Cou­ture Salon in Pine Hills.

“We’re not our hair,” said for

mer WKMG-Chan­nel 6 an­chor Se­cily Wil­son, whose daugh­ter Nicole was asked by her for­mer school, Montverde Academy, to change her nat­u­ral style be­cause it vi­o­lated the school’s dress code. The school later re­versed its pol­icy.

“My daugh­ter is ed­u­cated, smart, bril­liant, beau­ti­ful,” Wil­son said. “We want ev­ery­one to see us the way that we are, the qual­i­ties that we bring to the ta­ble, the pro­fes­sions that we’re able to ex­e­cute with ex­cel­lence. Don’t judge us.”

Also speak­ing at the event was Ericka Dun­lap, Miss Florida 2003 and Miss Amer­ica 2004, who said that dur­ing her pageant days there was “a lot of pres­sure to stream­line my look, if you will, to make it ap­pear as Euro­pleas­ing as pos­si­ble. … It needed to be straight, it needed to be long, in or­der to be con­sid­ered beau­ti­ful or even ac­cept­able.”

Dun­lap, who now wears an Afro, said young women should be able to have their hair “as God in­tended it, and they should not have to un­dergo the stren­u­ous and ex­pen­sive mea­sures that we go through in or­der to make our hair, ‘ac­cept­able.’ ”

If passed and signed into law, it would make Florida the third state af­ter Cal­i­for­nia and New York to en­shrine such hairstyle pro­tec­tions into law and the first with a Repub­li­can Leg­is­la­ture and gover­nor.

Bracy said he had spo­ken with state Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Mi­ami, the chair of the Com­mu­nity Affairs Com­mit­tee, and he is con­fi­dent she will sched­ule a hear­ing on the bill. Flores could not be reached for com­ment Friday.

There was no companion House bill listed as be­ing filed as of Friday.

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