Islam

Hijab-wearing high school student banned from basketball game

Maryland high school basketball player was not allowed to play in team's regional final varsity game, because of her hijab

 

She never got to play in the Regional High School Championship game in Gaithersburg, Maryland on March 3.

Instead, Je'nan Hayes, who is Muslim and wears a hijab, simply sat on the bench and watched her team lose the coveted game.

Watkins Mill High School girls basketball coach Donita Adams explained that she was approached by the referee before the game.

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"He told me my player couldn't play, due to, what he referenced it as, 'headgear'" Adams said. "So we had a discussion, what are her options, because we had never been informed of this rule. She played all 24 games and on the 25th game she couldn't play, so I needed clarification on that."

Rules do require a player needs a state-signed waiver to wear a religious garment, but no one had ever asked for one in the other games where Hayes played.

After the game, when questioned, the Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association issued this statement:

"High school athletics in Maryland has a strong and stable tradition of providing safe, meaningful and equitable participation for students. Unfortunately the officials made a strict interpretation of the National Federation of State High Schools playing rules for basketball instead of the spirit of the rule designed to ensure safety and competitive fairness. There should have been no denial of participation and we are committed to working with the school and the family to ensure this does not happen again."

Hayes team lost the championship game.

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