Cincinnati slated to become the next city to ban discrimination against natural hair

iStock(CINCINNATI) — Cincinnati is slated to become the next city to ban discrimination against natural hair as it relates to employment and housing opportunities as well as public accommodations.

On Wednesday, Cincinnati City Council member Chris Seelbach announced plans of the new law.

“I’m introducing historic, first city in the country, legislation today to add ‘natural hair’ to our city’s non-discrimination policy,” Seelbach wrote on Twitter.

“After hearing that California passed a similar law this summer, I reached out to friends and colleagues and quickly heard real stories of discrimination they’d experienced,” Seelbach told Good Morning America.

“I don’t think my hair has ever once been considered in any job I ever applied for, and I think that should be the case for everyone,” he adds. “I felt inspired to pursue adding natural hair to our city’s non-discrimination policy and so we began the next steps; research, community outreach, and drafting a new law.”

To kick off this initiative, Seelbach and his team worked with Cincinnati’s law department to review New York and California’s previously passed laws to figure out the best way to draft language that fits the needs of their community.

With strong support from community and colleagues, an ordinance was introduced, and it will be considered in the Equity, Inclusion & the Arts committee next Tuesday.

Next, a vote from the full council is expected on Wednesday, Oct. 9. At least five out of nine votes are required for passage.

“The state of California and the state of New York have passed natural hair non-discrimination laws covering all of their residents, and this year the New York City Commission on Human Rights issued new guidelines protecting residents from this type of discrimination,” said Jon Harmon, legislative director for Seelbach. “Cincinnati is proud to be among the very first cities in America to codify a ban on this discrimination with a vote of council.”

Kamara Douglas, Seelbach’s administrative and community affairs director, played a key role in spearheading the proposed legislation.

“From my kinks to my coils, I have grown to love my natural hair,” said Douglas. “Unfortunately, we live in a world where some institutions don’t think natural hair is professional or becoming. Not only is this demeaning, but it can also affect an individual’s sense of identity. The natural hair ordinance is so important for people of color and passage of this law reflects Cincinnati’s embrace of all members of its community.”

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