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“Protective Hairstyles” in Oregon
Where is Constitutional Equality?

Did you know that Oregon Department of Education is proposing administrative rules on how to talk about someone’s hair? It’s the Crown Act Administrative Rules adopting HB 2935 sponsored by Representative Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas), Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland) and Senator James Manning Jr (D-Eugene).

The rule is aimed at limiting discrimination and establishing equity focused policies. OAR 581-021-0045 and 0046. Section (1) (d) is practically a direct quote from HB 2935, Section 1 (10) that reads: “Protective hairstyle” means a hairstyle, hair color, or manner of wearing hair that includes, but is not limited to, locs, twists, and braids, regardless of whether the braids are created with extensions or styled with adornments.”

The Rule also defines “Race” to include “physical characteristics that are historically associated with race, that includes, but is not limited to, any natural hair, hair texture, hair type, or protective hairstyle associated with race.” This definition is in HB 2935, Section 3, however, what isn’t there and questionable whether it is constitutional, is the application only to protected classes of “ Black, African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, other protected class races, and multiracial individuals.”

It could almost be laughable, except that dress code and policies are also extended to not have disproportionate, no matter how slight, adverse impact on members of a protected class, including age, disability, national origin, race, color, marital status, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, to a greater extent than the policy impacts persons generally.

Incorporated in the Crown Act rules, but not part of the Act, is HB 3041 on gender identity sponsored by Representative Karin Power (D-Milwaukie) and Senator Kate Lieber (D-Beaverton). Sexual orientation carves out “gender identity” with its own definition meaning an individual’s gender-related identity, appearance, expression or behavior, regardless of whether the identity, appearance, expression, or behavior differs from that associated with the gender assigned to the individual at birth. Separating self-assigned gender identity from sexual preferences has the effect of separating the desired gender of an individual as not being defined by their sexual orientation. The Bill and now the Rule does not provide any new protections to the 2007 Oregon Equality Act. It simply gives LGBTQ clarity that they regard as important.

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

The entire rule applies to school districts, and a new section applies the same rule to agreements entered into with voluntary organizations. It seems to be aimed at “white” student behaviors and speech, as if the schools do not teach behavior manners and social graces the minute they enter school. What about these rules should not apply to every child equally?

By identifying policies that segregate, it saps the life out of education with a negative message to everyone. Teachers and coaches are always looking for fault or get sanctioned, “white” students are intimidated, while minorities sharpen their sensitivities. It can’t be denied that there has been some discrimination against people based on hairstyle or race, but it seems we may now have a school system that cares more about discriminating against dread locks than educating students to be successful.

With so much light on discrimination, especially when protests broke out turning to riots, legislative sessions turned into special sessions to address minority issues. You’d think that all that attention, there would be some improvements in the last four years. Still testimony that moved legislation on hairstyles sites cases and data prior to 2017.

”Equity” policies are re-inviting the wedge of segregation. The rule imposes discord by a notification they call a survey that encourages whistleblowing. School districts are to “Perform an annual survey of students and their parents to understand and respond to potential violations of equity focused policies adopted under this rule or violations of OAR 581-021-0045, 581-021-0046, or 581-021-0047.”

Apart from content, it is sad and laughable how poorly the rule is written. And we wonder why our students rank so poorly. Attend the Administrative Rules Hearing on November 23, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. Information on providing public comment is available on the State Board webpage. Submit your comments in writing to the ODE Rules Coordinator.


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-11-07 08:46:00Last Update: 2021-11-07 09:11:28



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