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June 15, 2023 



Governor Whitmer Signs Bipartisan CROWN Act to End Hair Discrimination 

Legislation will protect Michiganders from hair discrimination in schools and workplaces 


LANSING, Mich. – Today Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act, aimed at eliminating hair discrimination and expanding educational and economic opportunity. The bill passed Michigan’s House and Senate with overwhelming, bipartisan support and will expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to prohibit race-based hair discrimination and protect Michigan residents from workplace discrimination.  


“I am proud to sign today’s bipartisan legislation alongside Senator Anthony to end hair discrimination in Michigan,” said Governor Whitmer. “The CROWN Act will address hair discrimination Black Michiganders face at work, at school, and elsewhere. Black Michiganders must be able to wear their natural hairstyles however they choose and not feel forced to change or straighten their hair for interviews, work, or school. We know that 44% of Black women under the age of 34 have felt this kind of discrimination before and I am proud that we are taking an important step forward today to make our state more equitable and just. Let’s keep working together on our comprehensive Make it in Michigan vision to build a state where every Michigander can work, live, and raise a family.” 


“You should be able to be yourself in Michigan,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “Unfortunately, we know the truth that Black women’s hairstyles are 2.5x more likely to be deemed as unprofessional, and Black men face similar stigmas. The CROWN Act will address hair discrimination in Michigan and remove barriers that interfere with educational and employment opportunities for Black Michiganders. I am proud of what this legislation means for our children. Let us continue to show them that our vision for Michigan is inclusive enough for everyone and use every tool in our toolbox to build a Michigan where everyone can succeed.” 


“Since I first introduced the CROWN Act in 2019, I have heard countless stories from Michiganders of color, particularly Black Michiganders, of instances of hair discrimination in school and the workplace” said State Sen. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing). “Choosing to wear your hair in braids, locs, twists or other protective styles associated with race should not mean you are sent home early or passed up on a promotion. The CROWN Act gives a voice to the often overlooked in the halls of power.” 


“For years I thought my natural hair was unacceptable and would potentially limit my job opportunities,” said State Representative Stephanie A. Young. “I gave in to societal pressures and used chemicals to straighten my natural thick curly hair for decades only later be diagnosed with alopecia. I am grateful this legislation is being signed into law, so that others with hair like mine will know Michigan is a safe place to express one’s natural authentic hair, without fear of discrimination. 


“The CROWN Act recognizes that discrimination based on hair texture or hair style is absolutely harmful, especially to those of African descent,” said Michigan Department of Civil Rights Executive Director John E. Johnson, Jr. “Whether it is the harsh chemicals in relaxers or the high heat in perms, everything used to change the texture of hair can do long-term damage to the scalp and hair follicles. No person should lose opportunity or access because characteristics of their race have been deemed unprofessional.” 


“The signing of the CROWN Act is an important milestone in Michigan’s journey to building an inclusive state, “said Black Leadership Advisory Council (BLAC) Business Leadership Committee Chair Karen S. Carter. “BLAC celebrates the creation of statewide protections against race-based hair discrimination, and the positive impact on Black Michiganders.  We look forward to continuing our mission to champion work environments where all employees can thrive.” 


“Today’s signing of the Michigan CROWN Act signals a critical step in the right direction toward equity and inclusion for all Michiganders,” said Susan Corbin, Director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO). “I am proud of the Black Leadership Advisory Council and our state leaders for advancing this issue and their commitment to eradicating and preventing discrimination and racial inequity in Michigan. Together, we will continue to identify and address barriers that prevent Michiganders from achieving economic prosperity as we work to fulfill our vision of a stronger, more inclusive state for all.” 


“Hate, bias, and bigotry have no place in our schools in any form,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “Children have a right to feel welcome and supported in our schools, free from discrimination. This extension of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act is an important step in creating bias-free schools.”  


“The CROWN Act is another example of Team Michigan’s commitment to put the welcome mat out for people from all walks of life and appearances. In Michigan, your liberty and self-expression are not only protected, but celebrated. I commend Senator Anthony, Governor Whitmer and the statewide coalition of partners whose advocacy in championing this policy helped make today possible,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). “Solidifying our commitment to inclusivity by signing policies like the CROWN Act into law will make Michigan a more welcoming, and as a result, more attractive state for people who are considering moving for opportunities.” 



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SB 90 will amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to expand the definition of race to ban hair discrimination. The bill prohibits race-based hair discrimination, or the denial of employment and educational opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles such as braids, locs, twists, or bantu knots. The Black Leadership Advisory Council included the CROWN Act as a key priority in their 2022 report to Governor Whitmer.  


Originally passed in 1976, ELCRA prohibits discriminatory practices, policies, and customs in the exercise of those rights based upon religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status. Today’s changes to the ELCRA further protect Michiganders from discrimination by including hair discrimination in the act. 


Michigan becomes the 23rd state to sign the CROWN Act into law.