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Massachusetts House Passes Bill Banning Hair Discrimination

BOSTON (CBS) – The so-called CROWN Act is one step closer to becoming law in Massachusetts after the House passed the bill unanimously Thursday.

"When we saw it was unanimous, we were so excited," Deanna Cook told WBZ-TV.

The bill was inspired by Deanna and her twin sister Mya Cook and would ban discrimination based on a person's hair texture or hairstyle.

"I, myself, have heard from people who say they have a job interview, I need to straighten my hair," Cook explained. "We need to change that and say no, I have an interview and I'm going to rock my braids."

The national movement started in 2017 when the Cook sisters were reprimanded at school after wearing braids to school. They were just 15-years old.

Mya Cook
Mya and Deanna Cook in 2017 (WBZ-TV)

"I think the fact that we were so young and our school was able to treat us so badly – that stuck with us. We still think about it every day," said Cook.

The CROWN Act passed the Massachusetts House by a unanimous vote and will now go to the Senate for consideration.

The bill sponsor, Malden State Rep. Steven Ultrino, believes this law is long overdue.

"This message is to those people who have been discriminated against, whether in the workplace or in schools, that it's not going to tolerated," said Rep. Ultrino.

Cook said the only way for people to normalize natural and ethnic hairstyles is to wear it proudly.

"It's so validating that our lived experiences are finally being recognized," she explained.

The Biden administration is urging Congress to pass the CROWN Act on the federal level.

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