High School Track Star Alleges Religious Discrimination

WUSA-TV (Washington, D.C.), January 16, 2008

A DC track and field star says she’s been the victim of religious discrimination. Officials at the Montgomery Invitational track meet told Juashaunna Kelly she had to remove her Muslim head covering if she wanted to compete.

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Since her sophomore year at Roosevelt, Juashaunna has worn a custom made suit that covers her head and neck as required by her faith. But officials at the prestigious indoor track told her it violated the rules. “And I told her, I’ve been wearing it for three years, why can’t I wear it now?”

“I said doing that would be almost like me sending her out there buck naked,” says Roosevelt track coach Anthony Bowden. “I can’t do that.”

Track meet director Tom Rogers insists it had nothing to do with what Juashaunna was wearing on her head. He says lots of runners wear hejabs. One was even officiating at the meet. He says it has to do with what was under her uniform. Association rules require undergarments be one single solid color.

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Juashaunna’s convinced she missed a chance to shine for college scouts. There “was a lot of recruiters at this meet,” she says.

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The track meet is sponsored by Montgomery County Schools. Its director says a sanctioned meet has to follow the rules set up by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

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