Maryland is one step closer to banning hair discrimination based on hairstyles and hair texture.
The Senate passed the bill on Thursday by a vote of 46-0. The bill will now go to the House, where a similar bill was introduced.
The bill will look to expand the definition of race to the existing law, which will prohibit discrimination based on hairstyles such as braids and locks and hair texture—characteristics largely associated with African-Americans.
"It's a great thing and I think it's a great step forward,” said Diaspora Salon owner Yasmine Young.
Young says she decided to go natural when she was 11-years-old.
“I felt like this is the way I was created and there's nothing wrong with it,” she said.
But, years later when she worked for a graphic design company, her hair became a problem.
"I wore my hair in a style called a twist out,” she said.
After two weeks on the job, she says management voiced their disapproval.
"My manager came to me and said that some customers didn’t feel comfortable with me and senior management didn’t feel comfortable with me because of how I wore my hair,” she said.
Young eventually decided to leave the company and later started her own business. It’s a hair salon in Charles Village called the Diaspora Salon. The salon only styles natural hair.
Young says her black customers have told her their own stories about hair discrimination.
"We even have people who only wear their hair in a natural state on the weekends,” she said. “Because they cant wear it at work."
Because of stories like Young's and others, there's been a nationwide push to pass what is called the “Crown Act”, which stands for Creating a Respectful World for Natural Hair. It’s a law that would ban hair discrimination based on hair style and texture.
Three states in New York, California and New Jersey have already passed their own version and earlier this month Montgomery County became the first county in the state to do so.
For Young and her customers, she says if bill becomes law, it will be a huge sigh of relief.
"To have somebody be judge by their character, and by their quality of their work and their integrity is way more important than how they wear there hair,” she said.