Good Bills of the Week: Ending Hair Discrimination, Standing up for Support Staff, Giving Students’ Voice on School Boards

This week, House Bill 567 by Rep. Rhetta Bowers (D-Garland) was referred to the House State Affairs Committee, making it one of the first bills to be referred to a committee this legislative session. HB 567, colloquially known as the “CROWN Act” (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair), would prohibit racial discrimination based on hair texture. 

The bill would prohibit grooming policies in public schools and institutions of higher education that ban dreadlocks and other hairstyles. The bill also would prohibit employers from enforcing discriminatory grooming policies and protect renters and homebuyers from being discriminated against based on hair texture.

The CROWN Act was first proposed in 2019 as part of a nationwide campaign to combat hair discrimination. According to the CROWN 2023 research study, Black women’s hair is 2 ½ times more likely to be perceived as unprofessional. Policies discriminating against dreadlocks and other traditionally Black hairstyles act as a proxy for racial discrimination and effectively whitewash schools, universities, and workplaces.

Bowers previously introduced the CROWN Act during the last legislative session in 2021, but the bill never received a floor vote in the House. Since then, several cities, including Austin, have passed local versions of the CROWN Act. Texas AFT stands against all forms of racial discrimination and fully supports the CROWN Act.

In addition to the CROWN Act, several other good bills have been introduced, including:

HB 2208 by Rep. Armando Lucio Walle (D-Houston) would require the National Sexual Assault Hotline contact information be printed on student identification cards in public institutions of higher education.

HB 2204 by Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) would amend the Labor Code to include part-time school bus drivers and cafeteria workers to be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits. 

HB 2647 by Rep. Carl Sherman (D-DeSoto) would create a non-voting student trustee position within the board of trustees of a school district and allow the student to have the same powers and duties as any other board member, including the right to attend and participate in board meetings. 

HB 2695 by Rep. Venton Jones (D-Dallas) would require the board of trustees of each school district to adopt policy establishing benchmarks for the amount of square feet a school custodian may be assigned to for maintenance and custodial service.  
HB 323 by Rep. John Bucy III (D-Austin) would require fine arts to be included in the foundation curriculum for public schools.