By Michael D’Onofrio
PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia could be the next government to ban discrimination based on hairstyles associated with race.
City Council legislation proposed Thursday would make hairstyle discrimination illegal in housing, employment, school, competitive sports and other areas.
Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, the main sponsor of the bill, said “hair discrimination is still very much a reality for Black people.”
“As a Black woman, I personally understand how we’ve been forced to conform to mainstream standards of beauty for decades,” she said.
Parker’s legislation was sent to a council committee for a hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
The legislation would add hairstyle discrimination to the city’s existing discrimination ban.
The proposal defines hairstyles as hair texture and styles of hair of any length, such as protective or cultural hairstyles, natural hairstyles and other forms of hair presentation. Cultural hairstyles protected under the bill include locs, braids, cornrows, Bantu knots, Afros and hair extensions, as well as adornments, such as beads or barrettes.
Hair discrimination particularly affects African Americans, and has been reported in Colorado, Louisiana, New Jersey and Texas. In 2018, a New Jersey high school wrestler was forced by an official to cut his locs or forfeit his bout.
Michael D’Onofrio is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.