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.
It was a roller coaster weekend for the 17 year old star from Roosevelt High School. On Friday, Gatorade named her DC Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. On Saturday, officials at the Montgomery Invitational left her weeping.
“I knew she was about to say I couldn’t run,” says Juashaunna. “So I started crying. And she told me to calm down and everything. And I was just standing there crying.”
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.
“It started off with the hood,” says Juashaunna’s mother Sarah. “He didn’t say anything about an undergarment or shirt. He said the hood. The hood had to come off.”