Better Utah Responds to committee comments on CROWN Act


Salt Lake City, UT – Today, during the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee, lawmakers discussed S.B. 80, Utah Antidiscrimination Act Amendments, sponsored by Sen. Derek Kitchen. During discussion on the bill, Senator Derrin Owens and other lawmakers made a host of inappropriate and offensive comments. Senator Owens admitted to taking pictures of two Black children he didn’t know at a store, and remarking to three Black women presenting on the bill, “You people are beautiful.”

Katie Matheson, communications director for Alliance for a Better Utah, issued the following response: 

“Here we are on day nine of Black History Month and we’re learning how little some of our elected officials in Utah understand race and racism. The purpose of the CROWN Act is to protect against race-based hair discrimination. In his comments about the bill, Senator Owens unwittingly illustrated exactly why Utah needs such protections. 

“Utah enacted the Compact on Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion just a few months ago. That compact, and our shared dedication to making Utah a place where all feel safe and welcome, demands more of us than what was on display in this legislative committee today. We hope the committee will hear the bill again, and that lawmakers will commit to educating themselves about race.”


Alliance for a Better Utah is a nonprofit that holds politicians accountable and advocates for progressive policies that make Utah an even better place. The organization improves the lives of all Utahns through advocacy, transparency, and accountability in Utah politics, policy, and government. More information at

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