Headscarf kept girl from homecoming parade

Oct. 18, 2011 at 12:26 PM
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NASHVILLE, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- A Tennessee high school student says her Muslim beliefs kept her out of the school homecoming parade when she was told she could not wear her headscarf.

Demin Zawity, 14, said commanding officers in her Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program at Ravenwood High School told her she couldn't wear a headscarf with her JROTC uniform and march in the September homecoming parade, The (Nashville) Tennessean reported Tuesday.

Zawity said homecoming marked the first time she was going to wear her JROTC uniform with the headscarf.

The U.S. Army Junior ROTC Web site says religious headgear can be worn, but it must be "completely covered by standard military headgear."

Zawity has since quit the JROTC and returned to regular physical education classes, but the Council on American-Islamic Relations sent a letter of complaint to Williamson County Schools Director Mike Looney.

The district said it was bound by military regulations about approved headgear.

"Junior ROTC only exists at high schools if approved by the U.S. military," district spokeswoman Carol Birdsong said.

The school cannot keep Zawity from practicing her faith, an attorney for CAIR said.

"CAIR is deeply troubled by these allegations," Nadhira Al-Khalili, legal counsel for the organization, said. "It is unconscionable that a school district would enforce a third party's discriminatory policy."

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