LANSING — State Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) introduced House Bill 4811 to prevent discrimination by expanding Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) to recognize a person’s hair as a characteristic of race. Her legislation will specify hair texture and protective hairstyles, such as braids, locks and twists, as traits historically associated with race to protect Michiganders from discrimination in the workplace, all levels of public education, public accommodations and services, and real estate transactions.
“As a woman of color, I know people often judge me by the way I look—my perceived gender, my skin color, but also, my natural hair,” said Anthony. “It can be so easy to succumb to the pressure to present ourselves in certain ways to mitigate the biases of others, but that prevents us from being the best, most successful version of ourselves. My bill brings us one step closer to being a state where everyone feels empowered to celebrate who they truly are.”
This legislation will echo a similar bill recently signed into law in California, which became the first state to ban discrimination against natural hairstyles. New York and New Jersey state legislators have also recently introduced bills to combat this issue.