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Hijab Wearing Basketball Player Banned from Playoff Game

Je'Nan Hayes
Je’Nan Hayes

A Muslim girl who had played in 24 straight games for her varsity basketball team was forced to sit out the regional title playoff game because she wears a hijab.

CNN reported that the coach of Watkins Mill High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland  was told by the referee prior to the game that Je’Nan Hayes would not be allowed to play.

Hayes who does not start, was not told about the ruling until after the game.

“I’m Muslim, I’m American. I was born here,” said Hayes. “I’ve been here all my life. I’m human and just like you I have feelings,” she said. “This is the way I choose to represent my faith and it isn’t because I’m being forced. I want to.”

The rule which had not been enforced in Hayes previous games, including two playoff games, states that headwear is prohibited. That same rule allows for exceptions for religious purposes if documented evidence is produced that the head may not be exposed.

School officials said they were not aware of the rule prior to the game.

“It was in poor judgment,” said Reggie Spears, Watkins Mill High athletic director. “Should there be a rule, absolutely? It is necessary because you can get some crazy requests to wear this or that — I understand why there is a rule. But I think there was some common sense missing here.”

The Council of American Islamic Relations, CAIR, is asking for a rule change to avoid similar situations in the future.

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