A high school basketball player says she was forced to leave a game because she was wearing her Hijab.
Nasihah Thompson-King, a 16-year-old Muslim student at Mastery Shoemaker in Philadelphia and a member of the school’s Girls’ Basketball team, told NBC10 she was playing in a playoff game Friday when she was told by the referee she wouldn’t be allowed to continue playing with her head covering on.
“I was embarrassed because it was in the middle of a game,” Thompson-King said. “We have spectators watching and you chose to do that in front of all those people.”
Thompson-King said she’s been in 24 games prior to Friday and never had an issue wearing a Hijab. Jimmy Lynch, the head of the Philadelphia Public League, told NBC10 the same referee allowed her to be in a game while wearing her Hijab only two days before Friday’s incident.
According to league policy, athletes’ coaches are required to fill out a waiver so that the association can approve any head covering. On Tuesday, Lynch and seven state lawmakers sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association asking for the waiver rule to be dropped for religious reasons.
The head of the PIAA told NBC10 Friday’s incident was due to a communication issue, not a religious one. He also said Thompson-King’s coach had three chances since November to fill out the form but never did so.
The State Association said there have been at least 15 athletes from the area who requested to wear head covering and all of them have been approved.
Lynch told NBC10 the form has been filled out and the teen will be able to play in the team’s playoff game Wednesday at Kensington High School.
Several of her supporters are expected to be in attendance. Thompson-King and her family say they are still disappointed that the PIAA implemented the rule in the first place however.