Muslim Volleyball Player DQ'd Over TSSAA Uniform Rule For Wearing Hijab

By Jason Hall

September 18, 2020

A local muslim advocacy group is petitioning against what it believes is a "discriminatory" TSSAA uniform rule that led to the disqualification of a Nashville high school student for wearing a hijab during a volleyball match.

Najah Aqeel, a freshman volleyball player at Valor College Prep, was disqualified from her match against Brentwood Academy on Tuesday for violation of a uniform rule, which claims she needed authorization from TSSAA to wear the hijab for religious reasons, FOX 17 News reports.

The American Muslim Advisory Council said Aqeel already wore the hijab during a previous match without incident prior to Tuesday's disqualification. The group said the TSSAA referee referenced the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS) 2020-21 Volleyball Case Book and Officials Manual to disqualify Aqeel because she needed "authorization from the state association to wear the hijab" for religious reasons.

Aqeel reportedly informed her coach of her need for religious accommodations regarding the uniform at the beginning of the season, according to the American Muslim Advisory Council.

“Why should Muslim girls, who want to follow their constitutionally protected right, have an extra barrier to fully participate in sports in Tennessee?” AMAC Executive Director Sabina Mohyuddin said in a statement on behalf of the group. “This rule was used to humiliate a 14-year-old student in front of her peers. It was traumatizing to say the least. We have Muslim girls across the state playing sports. Religious barriers to playing sports should not exist in this day and age. This rule is akin to telling Muslim girls that they need permission to be a Muslim.”

TSSAA is a member of the NFHS and, like many other states, abides by the federation's rulebook. TSSAA said the volleyball rulebook addresses any headwear that isn't considered part of the uniform, but makes exceptions for religious reasons, FOX 17 News reports.

The association told FOX 17 News a request for Aqeel was submitted the day after the disqualification and was immediately approved.

"TSSAA has always granted exceptions to any student that wishes to participate with headwear, or other articles of clothing, due to religious reasons. The rule book states that an exception may be granted if requested by the administration of the school to the state association," a statement from TSSAA said.

AMAC is calling for TSSAA to revoke the headwear rule, claiming it "discriminates against Muslim girls on the basis of religion and gender." The group has created a petition in its effort to change the rule.

Photo: Getty Images

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