PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The school district and the Philadelphia Public League are seeking a change in the rule that kept a high school basketball player out of a game because she was wearing a Muslim head-covering.
It happened Friday after a basketball referee prohibited a 16-year-old Mastery Charter School student play unless she took off her hijab. The student refused and sat out the rest of the game.
The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association requires a waiver to wear a hijab, something the student didn’t have.
However, the Philadelphia School District’s athletic director and public league president, Jimmy Lynch says students shouldn’t need a waiver for their religious beliefs.
“In this case, we’re putting our students through an extra process to be able to have the same rights and responsibilities as every other student-athlete,” he told KYW Newsradio.
Lynch says the district and the public league are asking the PIAA to change the rule to require waivers only for medical reasons.
“I believe that there’s precedent set from other states to limit the exception based on religious grounds, and keep the waiver rule for anything medically necessary that’s going to alter the uniforms,” he said.
PIAA executive director Robert Lombardi says member school sports are governed by the rules of the National Federation of State High School Associations and that waivers are granted for religious reasons.
He says a waiver was granted Tuesday in the case of the Mastery student, and that 16 such waivers have been granted in the Philadelphia-area this year.