Teen Claims She Was Forced To Cut Her Braids During Softball Game

By Sarah Tate

May 14, 2021

A teenager in North Carolina is still reeling after she said she was forced to cut her braids during a softball game, WCNC reports. Now, she's voicing her concern in an effort to change policies she says targets specific players.

Nicole Pyles, a sophomore at Hillside High School in Durham, was playing in a softball game against Jordan High School last month when the umpires said her braided hairstyle with beads violated the uniform policy. She claims they gave her a choice, either cut the beads out of her hair sit out the rest of the game.

"To me, it wasn't a real choice," she said. "Why would I leave my team out to dry because of some beads? ... I felt like I had to cut these beads out and support my team."

She went back to the dugout where she and her team worked to get rid of the beads, including cutting the ends of her hair.

"I was embarrassed, and I was really upset," she said.

This isn't the first time she has worn beads in her hair while participating in other athletic competitions, but it is the first time they were supposedly an issue. Pyles, however, doesn't believe there was problem with her hair.

"There was no real safety concern," she said. "They just said it's a safety thing and I'm like 'against who?'"

The National Federation of State High School Associations has a policy on specific headwear during athletic competitions, WCNC reports: "Flat items, no longer than 2 inches, used to control the hair, such as bobby pins, barrettes and hair clips, are permitted. Plastic visors, bandannas and hair-beads are prohibited."

Pyles believes this policy targets Black students and other people of color who are more likely to wear beaded hair styles. She urges those in charge to make rules that don't "single out certain kinds of people." Durham Public Schools released a statement supporting Pyles and said that the organizations ban on hair beads is "culturally biased and problematic."

Ten states have adopted versions of the CROWN Act, which provides protections for certain hairstyles and prevents schools and employers from discriminating on the basis of hair. While legislation has failed to pass in North Carolina, the City of Durham has adopted its own version.

Photo: Getty Images

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