Dane County Supervisor Shelia Stubbs is looking to prohibit racial discrimination based on hairstyles in county workplaces and within organizations that use county services.
Stubbs, who is also a Democratic state representative from Madison and was the first African American elected to the state Legislature from Dane County, said Black people are often judged because of their hair, when their hairstyles are a "natural art" that should be celebrated.
"We want to make sure that no one is discriminated against with their hairstyle, especially with braids, locs and twists," Stubbs said.
Stubbs has introduced an ordinance amendment that would expand an existing policy that prohibits racial discrimination to also include hairstyles.
It would ban discrimination based on traits historically associated with race, including hair.
The potential change would build on a law called the CROWN Act, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair. Seven states — California, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado, Washington and Maryland — and two municipalities in the U.S. have signed the act into law.
Stubbs said she wants to make sure Dane County follows suit.
Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work because of their hair, according to a 2019 study by Dove, the hair product company, in partnership with the CROWN Coalition.
"We know for a fact African Americans have been discriminated against based on their hairstyles," Stubbs said.
Stubbs said the county needs to "embrace diversity" instead of letting white hairstyles be the norm.
"This is a really important piece of legislation that I think we should make sure takes place at our local level," she said.
The ordinance change needs to make it through the county committee process and then could be taken up by the County Board sometime in January.