By Bob Katzen

The Senate 40-0, approved a bill that would prohibit any person or entity including educational institutions workplaces and public spaces from implementing any policy that would explicitly target someone who wears their natural hairstyle.

The measure defines natural hairstyle as hair texture, hair type and protective hairstyles including braids, locks, twists and other formations. The House has approved a different version of the measure and the Senate version now goes to the House for consideration.

“Today’s passage of the Crown Act is a symbol from the Massachusetts Legislature that we stand with women of color who have experienced hair discrimination,” said Sen. Adam Gomez (D-Springfield). “As a father to young women of color this legislation means a great deal to me, but legislation is just the first step. In order to change hearts and minds, you have to ensure that people know that this exists, that it is deeply wrong and that it is something that many women of color have … experience with.”

“On the long march toward justice, and especially racial justice, the Senate’s unanimous passage of this legislation marks another step forward,” said Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester). “We would not be at this point without the great courage and strength of Mya and Deanna Cook, who as 15-year-old students faced discrimination and abuse from their high school for their hairstyles, and bravely stood up for their rights and those of so many other Black women.”

“Today, an African-American woman with natural hair voted on the Crown Act,” said Sen. Lydia Edwards (D-East Boston), referring to herself. “This is a perfect example of when the personal becomes political. I am grateful to Maya and Deanna and so many Black women who spoke up through and for our hair. This makes our commonwealth stronger and affirms our belief that we should be judged on the content of our character. Today’s politics is especially a blood sport so to see both houses and both parties come together for justice is especially meaningful.”

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