Noor Alexandria Abukaram was disqualified because she was wearing a hijab, which doesn’t conform to uniform regulations.
The 16-year-old cross country runner at Sylvania Northview High School in Ohio said she knew something was wrong when she looked up at the board at the district meet on Saturday. Her name and time were not listed, she said.
“It was like your worst nightmare to have to compete and then find out that you got disqualified and it’s because of something that you love,” Abukaram told CNN on Thursday. “Why should you have to sacrifice your religion and a part of who you are to run, to do another thing that you’re very passionate about?”
Abukaram competes at Sylvania Northview because the private school she goes to doesn’t offer sports. The Bounty Collegium has an athletics affiliation with the school.
The junior has competed on the school’s soccer and track teams for two years and this year she made varsity on the cross country team. She said she has never been approached about her hijab violating the uniform code. It’s always something she thought could happen, she said, but it hadn’t yet in her three years of competing.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association said in a statement that runners with religious headwear need to have a waiver to participate.