A scholar athlete sparked nationwide change after being disqualified from a volleyball match for sporting a hijab

A scholar athlete sparked nationwide change after being disqualified from a volleyball match for sporting a hijab

The Nationwide Federation of State Excessive Faculty Associations (NFHS), which units competitors guidelines for many US highschool sports activities, introduced on Thursday the brand new rule and stated it might prolong to different sports activities.

Help for the rule change swelled in September after Najah Aqeel, a freshman at Valor Collegiate Prep in Nashville, Tennessee, was disqualified from a volleyball match for sporting a hijab or headband.

A referee refused to let her play, citing a casebook rule that required athletes who put on a hijab to be granted authorization from the Tennessee Secondary Faculty Athletic Affiliation (TSSAA). Najah stated she didn’t have authorization, however that it wasn’t a difficulty for earlier matches.

Confronted with the selection to take away her hijab or sit out the match, Najah determined to not play. Most Muslim girls who put on the hijab solely take away it within the presence of different girls or speedy relations.

“I am actually humbled and completely happy that I obtained to alter the rule for volleyball gamers throughout the nation,” Najah advised CNN. “I hope it will make sure that nobody else who wears non secular headwear and performs sports activities must undergo what I did.”

Altering the rule

On the time of the incident, Najah stated she was “offended and unhappy” and felt singled out for her non secular beliefs.

NFHS Volleyball Rule 4-1-6 said: “Hair units made of sentimental materials and not more than 3 inches vast could also be worn within the hair or on the top. …” As a result of Najah’s hijab was a lot bigger than the allowable 3 inches, she wanted state affiliation approval to play.

Najah and her household have labored with the TSSAA, NFHS and American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) to alter the rule.

In October, the NFHS authorized a proposal for every sport guidelines committee to think about that may enable gamers to put on non secular head coverings — until deemed a security threat to the wearer or different members — with out prior approval from state associations.

Najah Aqeel, center, and her parents.

The volleyball committee was the primary to fulfill in 2021 and promptly authorized the proposal.

“For the committee that was just about a no brainer,” committee chair Jo Auch stated in a press release. “Our purpose is all the time to have our athletes be capable of take part so long as there is not a security concern concerned, so it made excellent sense to calm down that rule and take away the requirement for the states to authorize the sporting of spiritual headwear.”

Different sport guidelines committees will even think about the proposal. If adopted by all, it will influence most US highschool sports activities.

“Najah and her household have been gracious and affected person all through the numerous course of; from discovery, to listening to at least one one other, to studying and finally to decision-making on the state and nationwide ranges,” NFHS govt director Karissa Niehoff stated in a press release.

“Najah’s perspective, maturity and talent to speak outline her as a mannequin for younger folks in all places. We hope that her scenario serves as a reminder of the gorgeous cloth of variety that exists in our faculties and society general.”

A win for non secular freedom

Sabina Mohyuddin, govt director of the American Muslim Advisory Council, hailed the rule change as a victory for non secular freedom.

This Muslim basketball player refused to take off her hijab, opening doors for athletes of all faiths

“The NFHS ruling is a momentous event and sends a transparent message that Muslim women who select to put on the hijab do not want permission to be a Muslim in public areas,” Mohyuddin advised CNN.

“We’ll hold chipping away at any insurance policies that discriminate in opposition to our group. Najah is really a trailblazer. I like her braveness and willpower to face up for her equitable entry to sports activities all through this course of.”

The rule change will even influence scholar athletes of different religions, together with Jews who put on kippahs and Sikhs who put on turbans.

Najah hopes her stand conjures up scholar athletes of all faiths and backgrounds to proceed advocating for equality in sports activities.

“If there’s any message I might give to everybody on the market on the earth, do not be afraid to observe your goals,” Najah stated. “By no means be afraid to face up for what you imagine in.”

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