Boone Town Council passes ordinance protecting LGBTQ+, natural hair

Mia Seligman, Enterprise Editor

Boone Town Council unanimously passed an ordinance Wednesday protecting Boone’s residents from discrimination. 

The ordinance aims to protect citizens on the basis of: 

  • Race.
  • Natural hair or hairstyles.
  • Ethnicity.
  • Sex and sexual orientation.
  • Religious belief or lack thereof.
  • Veteran status.
  • Pregnancy and marital or familial status.

The goal of the ordinance is to protect discriminated and marginalized citizens in terms of housing and employment, while also prohibiting discrimination in public places such as restaurants, parks and places of entertainment, according to an article by WCNC

The ordinance was introduced in early 2021, after Gov. Roy Cooper and lawmakers agreed to eliminate the 2016 “bathroom bill.” The ordinance was expanded to include not only LGBTQ+ protection, but also natural hairstyles.

Ordinances like these have been passed in other parts of North Carolina, such as Asheville, Raleigh, and Durham

Natural hair ordinances aim to protect and defend people from systemic racism, which can prevent people of color from being hired. Traditional hairstyles would often be labeled as “unkempt” which hinders people of color from being employed or served in public places. 

Issues surrounding discrimination of natural hair were also brought to public attention in the U.S. Army, where protective hairstyles were included in unprofessional labels. This discrimination, as well as instances in regard to employment outside the army, went against existing federal laws, such as Title 42, Chapter 21, which states that hairstyles and work performance do not correlate. 

As well as outlawing hairstyle-based discrimination, protecting LGTBQ+ citizens from discrimination in employment and housing was also a goal of the ordinance. 

The federal Equality Act of 2021, also known as H.R.5 bill, was introduced and passed in 2021 to “prohibit discrimination on the bases of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation,” with the intention of outlawing this discrimination. However, other North Carolina cities have not introduced the same ordinances that Boone recently did.