Lexington becomes 4th city in Kentucky to adopt CROWN ordinance

Published: May. 12, 2023 at 9:43 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Lexington has become the fourth city in Kentucky to ban race-based hair discrimination in workplaces and housing.

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council unanimously passed the CROWN ordinance Thursday night.

The CROWN ordinance stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair.” And after Mayor Linda Gorton signed the ordinance on Friday, that’s exactly what it will do for so many here in Lexington.

“We want everyone to be their authentic selves. By passing unanimously, it says we feel supported and that people do appreciate the diversity we have in this city,” said Jitana Benton-Lee of the Frankfort-Lexington Chapter of The Links Incorporated.

Benton-Lee has spent countless hours pushing for city leaders to pass the CROWN Ordinance, banning race-based hair discrimination.

Frankfort passed an ordinance in March. Louisville and Covington did so years before.

“A lot of us as professional women have been told that we can’t wear our hair a certain way. Some of us were sent home because of the way we styled our hair. So we really wanted to do something about it so future generations don’t have that same experience,” said Benton-Lee.

An experience of being judged, turned away or discriminated against for the style or texture of your hair. An experience all too familiar for Former Representative Attica Scott, who originally sponsored state legislation for a CROWN Act.

“That began when my daughter’s school created a policy to ban natural hair,” said Scott.

In 2016, Scott’s daughter showed her a new dress code from her Louisville school. One that banned natural and protective hairstyles, such as braids, locs, twists or Bantu Knots, styles the CROWN Act protects.

“Unlike clothing, which one can change, hair is a living part of you. It looks different from person to person. One of the decisions black people have been forced to make before their first day of work or school is what to do with their hair?” said Scott. “These thoughts are not just cosmetic. And they are certainly not superficial.”

Benton-Lee says the passage of the ordinance will show younger generations the power of collaboration and the beauty in diversity.

The ordinance takes effect immediately.