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Wake School Board may use CROWN Act language in their policies to prevent hair discrimination

A girl with braided hair smiling.
Franck Abate
A girl with braided hair smiling.

Wake County School Board's policy committee discussed implementing language from the CROWN Act into their hair discrimination and dress code policy earlier this week.

The CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act is an effort aimed at protecting natural hair texture and styles such as braids, locks, twists and Bantu knots in workplaces and public schools.

Wake County’s School Board modeled its proposed language after Durham Public Schools' policy, which was based on the CROWN Act. School board member Monika Johnson-Hostler said they want to make sure students with natural hair styles feel normal.

“The first time I saw those, like braids in my own daughter, which I was sharing, it took her to 18 to be okay, with not having her hair straight," Johnson-Hostler. "Because of the way she knew people would make assumptions about who she was as a Black girl."

Another topic that came up in Tuesday’s meeting was about hair length. The committee’s chairperson Lindsay Mahaffey asked about an issue concerning a male student at one of the charter schools.

“A Native American student wanted to wear a long braid at his graduation, but was denied the opportunity to do that,” said Julia Crain, Wake County Schools Director of Strategy and Policy.

She recommended using length with context around the proposed language.

The Wake County Public School Board policy committee members said they will make additional edits to the proposed hair discrimination policy and meet back up to discuss next steps.

Sharryse Piggott is WUNC’s PM Reporter.
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