After playing in 24 basketball games during this year's season, Je’nan Hayes, a high school junior in the U.S., was barred from playing at a game which took place on March 3 at Oxon Hill High in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
Wearing a hijab.
According to the Washington Post her coach had not been told about a National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rule that is regulated at the state level and that effectively bans players from wearing “decorations and headwear" during games.
The rule is said to be in place as a "safety precaution" but there are exceptions to it.
One of them states that if the head cover is worn for religious reasons and there is documented proof of that, the association may approve a head covering but with detailed safety approved specifications.
Since the news of what happened to Hayes came out this week, many have spoken out against it, saying that the situation was not handled properly by referees and school officials.
The executive director of Maryland’s governing body for high school athletics (MPSSAA), Andy Warner, criticized the fact that no one had alerted Hayes or her coach on the rule throughout the season.
Apologizing to Hayes, Warner and several other officials said that they "would have immediately approved a waiver for Hayes’s hijab."
Since the news came out, the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has also offered to provide diversity training for high school sports referees across Maryland.
Muslim women have been facing discrimination when it comes to sports in the U.S. and elsewhere, especially if they play basketball.
This is because the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), still bans players from wearing religious headgear due to safety regulations.
Discrimination off courts
"Even though I represent Team USA and I have that Olympic hardware, it doesn't change how you look and how people perceive you," says Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first Muslim American saber fencer to represent the U.S. at the Olympic games.
Muhammad shot to fame after competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics but still deals with discrimination in her home country, not necessarily during competitions but in her day to day life.
According to the Independent, before President Donald Trump's now-frozen first travel ban even came into effect, Muhammad was detained at U.S. customs and she suggested that this happened because she is a Muslim.