AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, as passed in 2019, the mission of the California Federation of Teachers states that we will represent our members’ interests and the interests of the communities they serve through collective bargaining, legislative advocacy, political action and organizing; and

WHEREAS, dress codes that target and limit self-expression, such as hair and clothing, are all forms of micro-aggression aimed primarily at communities of color, specifically the Black community; and

WHEREAS, structural discrimination, systemic racism and implicit bias in this country have resulted in public policy, laws, legal rulings, organizational policies and regulations that discriminate against and cause tangible harm and target underserved communities, especially communities of color, in favor of white norms; and

WHEREAS, in 2013, Vanessa Van Dyke, a 12-year-old African American student at Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, Fla., complained to school administrators that several of her classmates were bullying her for having an Afro. In response to her complaint, school administrators urged her to cut or chemically straighten her hair, and when she refused to do so, she was threatened with expulsion and told her natural hair violated the school's dress code; and

WHEREAS, in 2013, 7-year-old African American student Tiana Parker at Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa, Okla., was sent home from school for having dreadlocks; and

WHEREAS, in 2017, twin sisters Maya and Deanna Cook who were sophomores at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden, Mass., were banned from attending the prom and from competing for their school's sports teams for refusing to remove the braids in their hair; and

WHEREAS, in 2018, 6-year-old African American student Clinton Stanley Jr. at A Book's Christian Academy in Apopka, Fla., was forced to disenroll from the school, after school officials told his father, Clinton Stanley Sr., he'd need to cut his son's hair before he'd be allowed to attend classes; and

WHEREAS, in 2018, a 14-year-old Black honors student in the Fresno (Calif.) Unified School District was placed in a room isolated from classmates due to his hairstyle; and

WHEREAS, in 2019, high school wrestler Andrew Johnson was forced to either cut his dreadlocks or forfeit the match; and

WHEREAS, in 2019, student DeAndre Arnold from Barbers Hill High School, in Mont Belvieu, Texas, was faced with in-school suspension, a policy that bars him from the classroom, for failing to cut his long dreadlocks. Officials also told Arnold and his parents that he may be forbidden to attend graduation in three months unless he cuts his hair; and

WHEREAS, California state Sen. Holly Mitchell introduced Senate Bill 188 that would ban discrimination based on hairstyles in the Fair Employment and Housing Act and California State Education Code. S.B. 188 bans racial discrimination by employers and public schools based on hair texture and protective hairstyles, which includes but is not limited to hairstyles such as braids, locks, Afros and twists. S.B. 188 has been referred to as the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair) Act; and

WHEREAS, on July 3, 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the CROWN Act into law in California becoming the first state to protect citizens from discrimination based on hairstyle by employers and public schools; and

WHEREAS, the new law, which took effect Jan.1, 2020, and prohibits the enforcement of grooming policies that disproportionately affect people of color, particularly Black people; and

WHEREAS, this includes bans on certain styles, such as Afros, braids, twists, cornrows and dreadlocks—or locks for short:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers strongly supports the CROWN Act at the state and national levels; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT calls on school districts not to discriminate against students based on self-expression based on their appearance, which includes hair, hair coverings, clothing, etc.; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will work with community partners to support state AFT affiliates to pass the CROWN Act in their states, and to introduce and pass the CROWN Act in Congress.