April 6, 2021

Guv signs bills that protect against discrimination for hair and hairstyles

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Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed two companion bills into law on Monday that will protect against discrimination for natural hair, hairstyles or cultural or religious headdress in schools and workplaces.

The signings came amid a flurry of bill-signings, where the governor signed over 50 pieces of legislation on Monday, days before the deadline to make a decision on legislation.

HB 29 and SB 80 passed during the legislative session and received wide bipartisan support. Both bills passed both chambers unanimously. The companion bills add a section to the New Mexico Public School Code and Charter School Act to prohibit discrimination against students based on their race or culture with respect to their hair, hairstyle or headdress.

The bills, also known as the CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act, has become law in seven other states. 

The measures will also amend the New Mexico Human Rights Act to prevent discrimination based on cultural or religious headdresses and protective hairstyles. The soap company Dove found that Black women are 30 percent more likely to be made aware of formal workplace policies and are one and half times more likely to be sent home because of their hair.

The lead sponsors were House Majority Floor Leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque, and state Sen. Harold Pope Jr., D-Albuquerque. Lujan Grisham cited them and the other bills sponsors for leading on this issue.

“This bill is a product of the leadership of Rep. Stapleton, Sen. Pope and others who recognize not only that our multicultural diversity is our strength but that we must actively fight for justice,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “I’m proud to enact this law and humbled to call these justice-minded legislative leaders my colleagues.”