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Checking Sports Rule Books for Hijab Waiver Rules is Essential Back-to-School Prep
Community
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Aug 12, 2021
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4 MIN READ
Dilshad Ali
editor
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Image source: Haute Hijab
Dilshad Ali
editor
Is your daughter gearing up for a fall sport as she heads back to school in a few weeks? Does she wear hijab? If you’ve answered yes to these questions, especially if a girl is new to a sport, school or school district, now’s the time to do your research and gain a thorough understanding of what the rules are regarding uniforms, hijabs and other forms of religious and/or modest dressing.
Depending on where you live, fall sports can include soccer, cross country, football, ice hockey, lacrosse, field hockey, volleyball and golf. Each sport has its own rules and regulations in regards to what one wears in practice and in competition, and those rules are dictated by a variety of national and regional sports associations. These can include the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) as well as state athletic associations that manage high and middle schools.
During the 2020-2021 school year, Haute Hijab was privileged to work with the NFHS on helping them amend their rules regarding hijab and religious headwear after the experience of 14-year-old Najah Aqeel broke in September of 2020. The freshman volleyball player for Vallor College Prep in Nashville, Tennessee, was forced to sit out the second game of her season due to her coach not obtaining a waiver for her hijab.
Najah Aqeel
In the following months, as Najah and her family escalated their case up the ranks of the NFHS, we were brought in to help advise the NFHS Volleyball Rules Committee on all-things hijab. As we covered her story on the HH blog, we knew we had to do more. So before our NFHS meeting, we were fortunate to meet with Najah, HH Sports Ambassador and basketball player Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir and Noor Alexandria Abukaram (an Ohio high schooler who also was disqualified from her cross country meet in 2019 because of a lack of a waiver for her hijab) to find out how and where we can help them and others who face the same problems.
Then, HH met with Lindsey Atkinson, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Volleyball Rules committee, to present information about hijab, hijab accessories (pins), how it is worn, fabrics used, the construction of sports hijab, and how risk factors regarding hijab have been overblown.
That information was included in the meetings material and in Lindsey’s presentation at the end of the fall sports season to the Volleyball Rules committee, which was attended by representatives from field hockey and soccer and has subsequently led to several rules amendments (dropping the need to obtain a waiver) in regards to hijabs and religious headwear for volleyball, field hockey, soccer and other sports, Alhamdullilah!
HH Sport Ambassador Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir
Early last spring, I spoke with Theresia Wynns, Director of Sports and Officials with NFHS about the rule change for soccer, asking her why there was momentum for change now after years of young women struggling with regards to hijab and other head coverings.
She told me, “I think the momentum has come out as a result of more athletes who are religious and want to show their religious belief in wearing whatever garment [or head covering] they need to wear for that particular religion.” While she hadn’t seen any challenge from a Muslim athlete come up in soccer, Najah’s story helped propel the rules committee for the three fall sports to make changes.
So, if you (or your daughter) is playing one of these three fall sports AND your school district are followers of the rules written by the National Federation of State High School Associations, no more hijab waiver needed for you! Do check the rules though in regards to what kind of hijab you can wear, the color and so on. If your school or school district follows state athletic association guidelines, make sure you bone up on the rules regarding religious headwear before your season starts.
As you familiarize yourself with the rules, get the gear you need for your daughter to play her sport, including the proper hijab. Our HH Sport collection, has four customized options and two sizes to help for the best athletic experience.
Nobody wants to be pulled out of their game for the lack of a waiver or for not following the rules. That being said, why should there be waivers for hijab or other religious headwear at all? That is our firm belief. Nothing should ban us from playing. If this is the case in your school, please record incidents and stories of faith-based head covering and clothing bans from our various communities through this form. We encourage you to document your own stories using the form and share it in your circles.
Noor Alexandria Abukaram
Our work to help ensure that no athlete is banned from sport over her hijab isn’t over, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for support. We’d like to help in whatever capacity we can, whether it’s presenting on how hijab is compatible with sport or in any other way. Please let us know what more we can do to support you if you are facing a pushback or ban because of your hijab. And have a great school year! Stay safe, stay fierce!
How can we help? Let us know in the comments below or email us at movements@hautehijab.com
#CantBanUs
#MovementsThatMatter
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