Here's a List of States That Have Passed Anti-Discrimination Hair Laws So Far

It's been seven months since the story of Texas high school student DeAndre Arnold made headlines and took over all of our social media feeds. Arnold, a former student at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, TX, went viral in January after a change in his school's dress code policy required he cut his dreadlocks in order to graduate with his class.

The 17-year-old didn't cut his dreadlocks; instead, he withdrew from the school, though after receiving an outpouring of support from celebrities like Gabrielle Union and NFL player DeAndre Hopkins on social media in the midst of all the controversy, he was later invited to attend the Oscars alongside director Matthew A. Cherry, who won an award for his short film later that night.

Infuriating as Arnold's story was at first, it's at least nice to know that he had a ton of support and a happy ending. That said, what happened to Arnold shouldn't still be happening to other students, and luckily in the last few years, a handful of states have made progress in passing legislation that bars hair discrimination. Here are all the states that have introduced anti-discrimination laws so far.

Every State That Has Banned Hair Discrimination So Far

Every State That Has Banned Hair Discrimination So Far


California was the first state to outlaw hairstyle-based discrimination. In July 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law the CROWN Act, which stands for Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. The bill made it illegal for workplaces and K-12 public schools to enforce grooming policies that directly affected people who wear hairstyles such as Afros, braids, twists, cornrows, and dreadlocks. The law officially took effect this year on Jan. 1.

New York

A week following the groundbreaking news that came out of California, New York followed suit with a similar law. On July 12, 2019, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that bans practices that discriminate "based on their hair or hairstyle at work, school, or in public spaces." A penalty up to $250,000 can be imposed on anyone who doesn't follow the law's guidelines.

"The New York City Human Law protects the rights of New Yorkers to maintain natural hair or hairstyles that are closely associated with their racial, ethnic, or cultural identities," read a statement from the Commission on Human Rights. "For Black people, this includes the right to maintain natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state."

New Jersey

New Jersey introduced its own CROWN Act in December 2019, one year after a high school wrestler in the state was forced to cut off his dreadlocks ahead of a match. Violating the law can result in a $10,000 fine for first timers, while a second violation within a five-year period could cost up to $25,000.


Virginia is the fourth state in the US to ban hair discrimination and the first Southern state to introduce the law. The law passed in the state's Senate in February after being debated for almost a month. "A person's hair is a core part of their identity," Delores McQuinn, a Virginia state delegate, told WHSV. "Nobody deserves to be discriminated against simply due to the hair type they were born with, or the way in which they choose to wear it." Virginia's law officially takes effect on July 1.

Colorado became the fifth state to ban natural-hair discrimination in March 2020 when Gov. Jared Polis signed the legislation. The state's CROWN Act covers discrimination based on one's race, such as hair texture, hair type, or a protective hairstyle commonly or historically associated with race.

"When someone chooses to celebrate their natural hair, we should join them in that celebration and not discriminate against them," said Rep. Leslie Herod, one of the bill's sponsors, according to The Denver Post.

In March 2020, Washington became the sixth state to pass the CROWN Act. Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill HB 2602 — 2019-20, which amends the Washington Law Against Discrimination to include the term "race" and cover traits historically associated with it, including hairstyles like Afros, braids, locks, and twists.

At the end of January 2020, the CROWN Act was passed in Montgomery County, protecting its residents against discrimination based on natural hairstyles not only at the workplace but also in public accommodations, taxi services, admissions to group homes, and cable services, stated the press release. The CROWN legislation allows people to seek a civil penalty of up to $5,000 through the Montgomery County's Office of Human Rights.

While the CROWN Act is not yet in effect statewide, it's progress. "This bill is another step forward for advancing racial equity in Montgomery County," said Council President Navarro in the release. "Employees should not have to fear retaliation for simply choosing a hairstyle."