Durham passes ordinance banning discrimination based on hairstyle

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Discrimination on the basis of hairstyle is set to become illegal in Durham in a few short months.

During Tuesday's meeting, the Durham City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that broadens protections for people when it comes to private employment and public housing.

Within the ordinance, the council expanded protections for residents in employment and public accommodations from discrimination based on gender identity, sexuality and military status. It will also protects against discrimination for hairstyle types and textures.

The move comes shortly after House Bill 142 expired. That bill was part of the compromise in repealing House Bill 2, more commonly known as the Bathroom Bill, which made it state law that people must use the bathroom that corresponded to the sex on their birth certificates.

House Bill 142 banned local governments from enacting non-discrimination ordinances, like the one Charlotte passed in 2016 that angered state Republicans, who responded by creating the statewide Bathroom Bill.

With House Bill 142 now expired, many local governments across the state are stepping up to pass ordinances designed to protect citizens from discrimination.

SEE ALSO: Hillsborough passes ordinance protecting LGBTQ+ community from discrimination

Durham's proposed ordinance changes Chapter 34 of the City of Durham Code of Ordinance, which currently governs housing discrimination, to include more protected categories and govern private employers.

According to wording in a memo detailing ordinance, "it is appropriate for the City of Durham to expand its non-discrimination ordinance to guarantee fair and equal treatment under law to all of its citizens."

The newly protected categories would include: military status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and protected hairstyle.

According to the ordinance, "protected hairstyle means any hairstyle, hair type, or hair texture historically associated with race such as, but not limited to, braids, locks, twists, tight coils or curls, cornrows, Bantu knots, and afros."

Our newsgathering partners at the News & Observer report this would make Durham the first city in North Carolina to prohibit discrimination based of hair style.

The ordinance will not go into effect until July 1, 2021. The implementation delay is designed to give business and city leaders time to become familiar with the new rules.
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