KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas state senator has proposed a bill banning discrimination based on a person’s hair style or texture.
Currently, an employer in Kansas can choose to fire an employee or not hire someone for having dreadlocks.
State Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, a Democrat from Wichita, sponsored Senate Bill 250, which would amend "the definition of 'race' in the Kansas act against discrimination to include traits historically associated with race, including hair texture and protective hairstyles," according to the Kansas legislature's website.
If passed, the bill would amend the Kansas Act Against Discrimination by adding “protective hairstyles” to a list of covered terms.
According to the bill’s text, “protective hairstyles” would include "braids, locs and twists."
The bill remained in the Committee on Federal and State Affairs as of Wednesday and was waiting to move forward in the legislative process.
Senate Bill 250 follows an effort in other states related to the Crown Act, which is an acronym for Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair.
A similar bill was introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives, which would apply to any educational institution that "receives or benefits from state financial assistance or enrolls pupils who receive state student financial aid."
It also "prohibits discrimination on the basis of hair texture and protective hairstyles," according to the bill summary.
State Rep. Barbara Washington — a Democrat from Kansas City, representing District 23 — introduced House Bill 2356 on Jan. 30 and had a second reading Feb. 3. The bill is not currently on the House calendar.
The Crown Act was first introduced in January 2019 in California. It has since been passed in New York and New Jersey. A version of the Crown Act also was introduced in both chambers of the U.S. Congress in December 2019.
U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, a Democrat from Missouri, has signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Currently, at least 23 states, including Kansas and Missouri, "are considering the CROWN Act and have either pre-filed, filed or formally stated an intent to introduce their own anti-hair discrimination bills," according to the Crown Coalition.
The city of Cincinnati and Montgomery County, Maryland, have passed local ordinances.