State rule requiring documentation for religious headgear needs to be abolished

Aisha Sowe

Junior Je’nan Hayes was benched from the girls varsity basketball game on March 3 because of her hijab. Referees said that Hayes needed a state-signed waiver, giving her permission to wear her head scarf.

The National Federation of State High Schools Association’s rule book does not allow “decorations and headwear” unless they fit certain requirements. Hayes’ hijab is part of her Muslim faith. One of the exceptions to the rule says for religious reasons, a participant may not expose his/her uncovered head in the event there is a documented evidence provided to the state association.

Hayes should not have to sign a waiver in order to play while wearing the hijab. Forcing her to document her religion in order to be able to play in a sport is discrimination and a violation of her First Amendment rights.

Waivers should not be necessary in order to play a sport in religious headgear, be it a hijab, a yarmulke, or a turban, because it’s singles these students out in a discriminatory way. Hayes should have been able to play basketball while wearing her hijab without signing a document.

Any rule stating that an athlete can’t play a sport because of religious headgear is very ridiculous and discriminating. Religious intolerance is a serious issue and it needs to be handled right now.

We strongly encourage those in power to re-evaluate and eliminate this rule in cases of religious headgear without needing discriminatory documentation.


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