A bill to protect people at school or in the workplace against discrimination based on their hair or hairstyle was passed 37-0 in the Senate on Thursday.
SB 80 would amend New Mexico human rights law to prevent discrimination based on cultural or religious hairstyles and protective hairstyles and would prevent school districts and charter schools from disciplining children based on their hair , their hairstyle or their cultural or religious hairstyles.
Sponsored by State Senator Harold Pope Jr., D-Albuquerque, who spoke about the discrimination he faced as a child because of his hair, the Bill was virtually untouched. debate in the Senate. Pope is the first black senator in New Mexico history. State Senator Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque, said he supports the bill but asked if a coach or school referee would be able to resolve safety concerns if the bill passes.
The Pope declared that “security will always come first”.
State Senator Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, said he wanted to make sure it was clear during the Senate debate that “we are not sending the message that by implementing this bill, we are making discrimination illegal for the first time “.
Candelaria, who is a lawyer, said he is currently representing a young woman who has suffered discrimination because of her hair at public schools in Albuquerque.
“I want to make it more clear that this does not take away the remedies that people are already looking for in the current law,” Candelaria said.
Several other state senators rose to express their support for the bill, and many said it was unfortunate that the public needed such a bill.
“Our appearance and dress are important to us individually and to our cultural identity,” said Senator Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque. Lopez is also a sponsor of Bill.
Some senators from Native American states have also risen to speak about the discrimination affecting native people around their hair. Albuquerque State Senator Brenda McKenna, a member of the Nambé Pueblo and Democrat, said she and one of her brothers had been told by previous employers that they had to cut their hair.
An identical bill, HB 29, has been passed by the House and is awaiting hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The No Discrimination for Hair Bill is also known as the CROWN Act, which stands for Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, and it has been passed in seven other states. Soap company Dove found that black women are 30% more likely to be told about formal workplace policies and one and a half times more likely to be sent home because of their hair.
“They shouldn’t have to face such scrutiny,” Pope said on the Senate floor. “Not only is it discrimination, but it is also inequity because there is a social and economic cost. “