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16-Year-Old Black Student Forced To Cut Hair To Play In Softball Game

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 16 May 2021 17:02
16-Year-Old Black Student Forced To Cut Hair To Play In Softball GameYouth Justice Project/YouTube

A 16-year-old Black student was forced to cut her hair so that she could play in her high school softball game.

Nicole Pyles from Durham, North Carolina, attends Hillside High School and has played several softball games for her school, but last month the way she wore her hair all of a sudden became an issue.

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During the game which took place on April 19, the referee said that they were unable to see her uniform number because of her beaded braids, despite this not being an issue during the teenager’s previous games.

Teenager with braids plays softball (Youth Justice Project/YouTube)Youth Justice Project/YouTube

Upon the first complaint, Nicole tucked her hair into her shirt and sports bra so that her number was visible, but after a second complaint, the referee stated that her hair beads ‘violated the rules’.

While it wasn’t brought to her attention before, apparently The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), which provides uniform playing rules, prohibits student-athletes from wearing hair beads, Good Morning America reports. Bandanas and plastic visors are also banned.

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Nicole was then given the option to either stop playing or lose the beads. Apparently her school’s team was in the lead prior to the complaints, so she didn’t want to let her team down. With this in mind, she chose to have her beads cut off.

The student told ABC News’ Zachary Kiesch:

I felt disrespected and I felt humiliated. I truly felt like in my heart that it was not a choice… That’s my team, so I will stand by them no matter what.

Beads are not going to be the reason we don’t win a game.

Nicole Pyles (Youth Justice Project/YouTube)Youth Justice Project/YouTube
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‘My hair means a lot to me […] I’m not going to let braids take away from who I am on the field and off the field, but it is a part of me and no, I don’t want that to be stripped away from me,’ Nicole continued.

The NFHS has since issued a statement where it said that ‘the rule was never intended to address any kind of prohibition of a culture or ethnic group or even a hairstyle that might be most comfortable for a participant,’ and that the rules were in place to ensure students’ helmets ‘fit snugly’.

A Durham public schools investigation has since concluded the rule was ‘culturally biased’, according to The Guardian.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Life, hair, North Carolina, Now, teenager

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Good Morning America
  1. Good Morning America

    North Carolina teen athlete speaks out after being forced to cut hair