TOPEKA, Kan. (KAKE) – Several Kansans told state lawmakers Thursday that Kansas needs to add a hair type and protective hairstyles associated with African Americans to its anti-discrimination laws.

Known as the “Crown Act” (SB 130) the proposed bill would protect traditional African American hairstyles.

Currently, many dress codes discriminate against African American hair in its natural state. Dreadlocks, twists, braids and Afros are all traditional African American hairstyles that work with the natural texture of their hair.  These styles are often referred to as natural or protective hairstyles.  

“No one should have to face discrimination in the workplace or schools for wearing their hair the way natural grows out of their head,” said Michelle Watley, the founder of Shirley's Kitchen, a nonprofit in Kansas City. “All Kansas should be allowed to celebrate their natural beauty without fear of judgment or consequence.”

Those who spoke to lawmakers said the bans limit job options for minorities, without increasing safety or professionalism.

“I see people across America with talent, skills and abilities to succeed, but it's disheartening to see these same folks discriminated against just because of their hair…,” said Oshara Hayes.

To date, twelve states have passed the "Crown Act" into law, including Nebraska.

While the act failed to make it out of the Statehouse in 2020, Kansas City, Missouri has put its own version into effect at the city level.