Muslim girls and women shouldn’t have to choose between their religion and their sport. And at Deering High School in Portland – the first school in the U.S. to provide female Muslim athletes with hijabs designed for physical activity – they don’t have to. In a state that’s the least diverse in the country, and at a time when bias against people from other countries and faiths is escalating, this is a significant step forward.

Thick and prone to unraveling, the traditional hijab, a headscarf that many Muslim women and girls wear to reflect their faith, isn’t practical for sports practice and competition – any more than it would make sense for an athlete to try to shoot baskets while wearing a dress and heels. So it was a milestone when small companies (often spearheaded by women) started making and selling lightweight, sweat-wicking hijabs, designed to be pulled on rather than wrapped around the head.

But the concept didn’t get widespread attention until this spring, when athletic wear giant Nike announced plans to release its own Pro Hijab in 2018. Inspired by a Nike ad, the Deering girls’ tennis co-captains launched a fundraising campaign to help the school buy 25 sports hijabs from a small Minnesota company. They quickly raised $425 (almost double their original goal of $250). An anonymous donor kicked in the other $700 needed.

The decision’s been a win. Ten of the hijabs are now in use. Female Muslim students say the school has paved the way for them to take part in an activity that they’d been left out of before, and they’re heartened that Deering is listening to their concerns and taking them seriously.

No doubt, naysayers will rush to decry the move as embracing “radical Islam” by enabling faith-based oppression of women. Their argument overlooks the fact that involving young people in team sports works against radicalism by making them part of a community. And these supposed champions of feminism are usually nowhere to be found when it comes to making things like effective contraception, equal pay under the law and protections from domestic abuse available to women of any creed.

Deering athletic director Melanie Craig has a common-sense view of the issue: “If I’m going to buy a football helmet, I’m going to buy a hijab,” she told the Maine Sunday Telegram. Other schools across the country should heed her words and take steps to make the playing field a welcoming venue for all girls and women.

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