New York City Catholic Schools Find Loophole In Law Banning Hair Discrimination

More than a dozen Catholic schools in New York City are continuing with their rules banning boys’ braids despite city and state laws meant to end cultural hair discrimination.

According to legal records, the city law that resulted in an Upper East Side salon getting hit with a $70,000 fine for discouraging Black employees from wearing natural hairstyles isn’t pushing Catholic classrooms to comply with the law, and critics are calling it a double standard, the New York Daily News reports

“It makes me very uneasy that the (New York) Archdiocese is not going to step in and encourage all of their schools to be compliant with state law,” said Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright (D–Brooklyn), who helped draft the recently passed state Crown Act banning discrimination against natural hair, which disproportionately singles out Black men and women, the Daily News reports.

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The state law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in July and the city’s version from February hasn’t enforced it in at least 14 of New York City’s Catholic schools, the Daily News reports. 

“No cultural preferences will be allowed, such as boys with braided hair,” said a handbook from Christ the King School in the Bronx, which serves elementary and middle-school students, the Daily News reports.

RELATED: Discrimination Against Natural Hair Will Cost NYC Violators $250K, And WOC Are Rejoicing

Other Catholic schools throughout the five boroughs call braids a “fad” or “inappropriate” hairstyles for boys, the Daily News reports.

But, according to the Daily News, after the publication reached out to some of the schools they confirmed they no longer enforce those restrictions. 

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After Lavona Batts, mother of a 9-year-old who attends Immaculate Conception Catholic Academy in Jamaica, Queens, sued the school for telling her son he couldn’t wear braids if he wanted to continue attending the school, Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio called the school’s sanctions “unacceptable” and promised action, the Daily News reports. 

Due to Batts’ lawsuit, the city’s Commission on Human Rights offered training and education materials to Immaculate Conception, but they directed officials to the Brooklyn Diocese, the Daily News reports. 

RELATED: Black Michigan Girl Denied School Picture Because Of Her Red Braids Gets Special Photo Shoot

Brooklyn Diocese spokesman John Quaglione said the diocesan superintendent “requested that all of our academies and schools closely examine their hair policy.” 

But the New York Archdiocese isn’t yet on board and continues backing the rules set in at least nine of the Catholic school’s rule books, the Daily News reports.

T.J. McCormack, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said, according to the Daily News, “Families attending any Catholic school agree to adhere to the terms of the school’s handbook, which will include guidelines on hair, wardrobe and personal conduct.”

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