With the game out of reach and the season sputtering to a finish, Watkins Mill Coach Donita Adams made sure every girl played in the team’s first region final appearance. But Adams left Je’Nan Hayes sitting on the bench. She had no other choice.
“I didn’t even want to look down at Je’Nan in that moment,” Adams said. “I had not yet told her that she wasn’t allowed to play in the game because of her headscarf.”
The game was at Oxon Hill High in Prince George’s County on March 3. Hayes, a junior in her first season playing organized basketball, was not allowed to play because she wears a hijab as part of her Muslim faith. Before the contest, the head official informed Adams of a rarely enforced rule requiring “documented evidence” that Hayes needs to cover her head for religious reasons.
“I felt discriminated against, and I didn’t feel good at all,” Hayes said. “If it was some reason like my shirt wasn’t the right color or whatever, then I’d be like, ‘Okay.’ But because of my religion it took it to a whole different level, and I just felt that it was not right at all.”
The news that Hayes wasn’t allowed to play because of her hijab was first reported by The Current, Watkins Mill’s student newspaper. [The Washington Post] Read more