Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Religion Or Rules In Track Meet?

This story has some interesting legal morsels in it.

A high school track star has been disqualified from a meet because officials said the custom-made outfit she wears to conform to her Muslim faith violated competition rules...

Kelly was wearing the same uniform she has worn for the past three seasons while running for Theodore Roosevelt's cross-country and track teams. The custom-made, one-piece blue and orange unitard covers her head, arms, torso and legs. Over the unitard, she wears the same orange and blue T-shirt and shorts as her teammates.

The outfit allows her to compete while adhering to her Muslim faith, which forbids displaying any skin other than her face and hands...

But meet director Tom Rogers said Kelly's uniform violated rules of the National Federation of State High School Associations, which sanctioned the event. Uniforms are required to be "a single-solid color and unadorned, except for a single school name or insignia no more than 2 1/4 inches," he said.

Rogers said he knew Kelly was wearing the uniform for religious reasons and that he offered her several options to conform to the rules while still respecting her faith, including placing a plain T-shirt over her unitard and then wearing her team uniform over it.

Kelly's mother, Sarah, and Roosevelt Coach Tony Bowden disputed that account.

This is really good. At what point do schools' rules yield to personal religion, and at what point does your exercise of religion become too much for the school to accommodate?

I'd put odds at 50-50 that the ACLU will get involved.


Chanman said...

So instead of a blue and orange unitard, she should get a unitard of a single solid color. By my reading of the article, that should put her in compliance.

When I ran track in high school, I wore a long pair of spandex tights under my track uniform because my legs got cold in those early-season track meets near Mount Shasta. The tights I wore had to be similar to my school colors, and had to be of one solid color.

This sounds like a very similar situation.

Bloke said...

Seems like a rather silly rule, but thems the rules.

dc from San Lorenzo said...

How will we accomodate the Amish kids in school sports?

Oh yeah. Can't. Nobody is afraid of the Amish.

Anonymous said...

It would be rather funny if that Muslim girl was a swimmer instead of a runner. Imagine her sinking to the bottom of the pool by wearing excessive clothing for the sport!

-- chicopanther

Mrs. C said...

chicopanther, I have no clue about Muslims, but I do know United Pentecostals do NOT do "mixed bathing," and that includes using the swimming pool with members of the opposite sex no matter what they're wearing. These children are, thankfully, excused by our district from participating in that PE unit.

Nothing wrong with a little tolerance when it's do-able, although in an optional after-school sport I think the threshold should be higher for what the district should cater to.

Donalbain said...

Oh yes. How funny to think of a kid drowning.
Seriously, how disgusting are you? And as for swimming in Muslim attire:

Ellen K said...

It's action like this that give rise to issue of discrimination. I didn't like the short shorts my daughter had to wear on the volleyball court. I would much rather see her wearing less revealing attire. I similarly don't get the need for beach volleyball games to have women players wearing skimpy bikinis. Anyone who has worn a bikini will tell you that they don't stay in place without a certain amount of discreet tugging. So why the hoopla over this girl's modest attire. If the color is an issue, then make a rule for one piece unitards. But this type of things just keeps needless fights going. Of course a few years back, parents of eight year olds on a girls soccer team ahd to deal with accusations that one of the players-a very good one who happened to have short hair-was a boy. This argument is parent and coach driven. How about we let the kids compete and stop trying to bandy rules around for the benefit of the team?