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CROWN Act, anti-hair discrimination bill, dies in Texas House

The CROWN Act, which would have banned discrimination on the basis of hair texture or style, died in the Texas House Thursday.

AUSTIN, Texas — Time ran out for the CROWN Act on Thursday. The Texas House worked right up to its midnight deadline passing bills but didn't get to the anti-hair discrimination bill.

House Bill 392, the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act (CROWN Act) by State Rep. Rhetta Andrews Bowers (D-Garland), would have banned educational, employment and housing discrimination on the basis of hair texture or style, including braids, locs and twists.

There is still hope for the CROWN Act in Texas: There is an identical bill in the Texas Senate, Senate Bill 77. That bill has not been heard in the committee yet.

Support for the CROWN Act movement gained momentum across the U.S. in 2019, following stories of Black children facing discrimination and school suspensions on the basis of their natural hair.

RELATED: 'Rooted': How these Texas lawmakers plan to ban hair discrimination through The CROWN Act

HB 392 was at risk of not making it through the House this session. As the deadline for House committees to hear bills approached, the State Affairs Committee had not scheduled a public hearing on the bill, a necessary step for it to move forward. 

With less than two weeks until the deadline, Rep. Bowers, other lawmakers and supporters hosted the Texas CROWN Act Day of Action at the Texas Capitol to draw attention to the bill. Hours later, the bill was scheduled for a hearing for the next day. 

In February, KVUE traced the journey of the CROWN Act in an installment of WFAA's "Rooted" series. The report explained that while hair is not something people dwell on, for many Americans, it has become an avenue of racial discrimination.

After filing the bill, Rep. Bowers gained four co-authors, bipartisan support and nearly 60 sponsors. 

HB 392 wasn't the only bill House members didn't get to Thursday. Time also ran out for House Bill 1399, which would have banned gender confirmation surgery, hormone therapy and puberty suppression treatments for transgender children in Texas. However, a similar bill in the Senate does have time to be approved by both chambers before the legislative session ends on May 31.

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