The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association has reversed its hijab ban for high school athletes, after officials benched a 16-year-old Muslim student for wearing the hijab at the regional basketball finals.
Under the new policy, high school athletes are allowed to wear their religious head coverings as long as it's not "abrasive, hard or dangerous to any player/others." The former policy required students to provide "documented evidence" to wear religious garments during sport tournaments.
"Any participant may wear a head covering, wrap or other required religious garment which is not abrasive, hard or dangerous to any player/others, and is attached in such a way that it is unlikely to come off during play," the new policy reads.
The policy change was enacted after news broke out that Watkins Mill High School student athlete Je'Nan Hayes was benched by her coach in the final quarter of the state's basketball regional finals.
"My coach had pulled me aside, and she had said that she was sorry that I couldn't play," Hayes told WTOP. But there was a state rule saying that I have to have a letter to play with my hijab on."
In all of her two years of coaching, Donita Adams — Hayes' coach — had not heard of the hijab ban until a referee informed her the Muslim teen would need an exemption letter from the state to receive religious accommodation during the basketball game.