Najah Aqeel, a freshman at Valor Collegiate Prep in Nashville, was warming up for a match on September 15 when her coach stated a referee had refused to let her play as a consequence of her scarf.
The referee cited a casebook rule requiring athletes who put on a hijab to be granted authorization from the Tennessee Secondary College Athletic Affiliation (TSSAA). Najah, 14, stated she didn’t have authorization, however that it wasn’t a problem for earlier matches.
Confronted with the selection to take away her hijab or sit out the match, Najah determined to not play. Most Muslim girls who put on the hijab solely take away it within the presence of different girls or quick relations.
“I used to be offended, unhappy and in addition shocked simply because I had by no means heard of the rule earlier than that,” Najah informed CNN. “The rule has no enterprise being within the casebook. It singles out hijabis. I do not see why I want approval to put on my hijab when it is part of my faith.”
Karissa Niehoff, government director for The Nationwide Federation of State Excessive College Associations (NFSH), which units competitors guidelines for many US highschool sports activities, informed CNN that the uniform pointers usually are not laborious guidelines, and that states could make exceptions.
“We’re heartbroken and deeply sorry that the younger woman was disqualified from the match for carrying the hijab,” Niehoff stated.
“Extra widespread sense ought to have been demonstrated by the adults. The proper method the referee ought to have taken is to have allowed the younger woman to play and level out after the sport that subsequent time she must submit a letter.”
An ‘antiquated’ rule
NFSH supplies particular steering on uniforms.
“The participant will need to have authorization from the state affiliation to put on the hijab or different kinds of gadgets for spiritual causes as it’s in any other case unlawful,” based on the NFSH Volleyball Casebook.
Niehoff stated NFSH is getting ready to introduce new language to its casebook pertaining to non secular headwear so that it’ll not be a problem sooner or later, until it poses a hazard to the participant or different athletes.
Cameron Hill, athletic director at Valor Collegiate Academies, informed CNN the varsity was unaware of the rule that prevented Najah from taking part in, and characterised it as “antiquated and oppressive.”
“We wish our state to make it understood that there is no such thing as a want for Muslim girls to get permission to put on their spiritual headwear,” Hill stated. “This rule is discriminatory and inequitable. We stand in solidarity with all of our students and households and their freedoms to specific their faith freely and brazenly.”
Hill stated Valor Collegiate Academies has since drafted language they are going to suggest to the TSSAA in hopes of issuing an exception to the rule.
A problem of Constitutional rights
Sabina Mohyuddin, government director of the American Muslim Advisory Council, informed CNN she helps the Aqeel household resolve the matter. She says it is a problem of Constitutional rights.
“Why ought to Muslim women, who need to comply with their constitutionally protected proper, have an additional barrier to totally take part in sports activities in Tennessee?” Mohyuddin stated in a press release.
“This rule was used to humiliate a 14 12 months previous scholar in entrance of her friends. It was traumatizing to say the least. We have now Muslim women throughout the state taking part in sports activities. Non secular boundaries to taking part in sports activities shouldn’t exist nowadays. This rule is akin to telling Muslim women that they want permission to be a Muslim.”
In a letter to Mohyuddin, a lawyer for TSSAA stated its guidelines “usually are not written with the intention of discriminating towards anybody.” Fairly, they’re written typically in order to not burden recreation officers with “a mess of advert hoc selections about what’s or is just not permitted, a very unworkable state of affairs that will result in arbitrary distinctions.”
Richard Colbert, the lawyer, stated Najah might have been allowed to play had the referee not enforced the rule or had her coach sought TSSAA authorization first.
When reached for remark, the TSSAA forwarded CNN the identical letter.
Bernard Childress, TSSAA government director, later despatched CNN a press release saying the affiliation would ask its Legislative Council to situation an exception to the rule for the hijab.