A 9-year-old girl and her mother are searching for a solution after a referee benched her for wearing her beads on her braids.
On Oct. 11, Aubrey Zvovushe-Ramos’ mom Amy Zvovushe-Ramos shared an image on Instagram explaining what happened.
Amy said her daughter played on the American Youth Soccer Organization for five years and regularly wore her hair braided. But on Oct. 9, a referee deemed it problematic.
After Aubrey offered to wear her hair up with a scrunchie, the ref wanted the beads removed promptly instead.
“I would challenge him with coming with me to the hairdresser and watching the hour plus it takes to remove the beads from her hair,” Amy wrote in a comment on her Instagram post. “The pain she goes through when they comb wash and condition her very thick curly hair. And lastly the process of braiding and putting the beads in. It was not a reasonable accommodation to ask her to take them out on the spot.”
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Well it pains me to have to be dealing with my current situation with the #AYSO I feel it absolutely necessary to be addressed on #internationaldayofthegirl. My 9 year old daughter, who has supported and been a participant in #AYSOsoccer for 5 years was not allowed to play in her game this past #Saturday because of her hair. My daughter has worn the same hairstyle for sports for as long as she's been playing and this is the first time it's been an issue. Her #AfricanAmerican hair is a different texture and is treated differently than #Caucasian hair. We found a child friendly style that allows her to play sports and still be a little girl. My daughter is the real #MVP because though she was publicly humiliated, she was the epitome of sportsmanship cheering her team from the bench. My husband and I combed the handbook for rules on braided hair secured with beads and found nothing. My daughter offered to tie her hair in a tight scrunchie and was denied. I have reached out to #AYSOcoorporate and have received no response. @ayso_soccer #iamnotmyhair #soccermom #soccergirl #soccer#unselfie
According to the AYSO website, jewelry is disallowed. Hair ties made of plastic and metal are also banned. However, beads are not specified in the rules.
“Had I known it was an issue prior to that day I could have removed the beads ahead of time,” Amy continued. “My issue is in how it was/is being handled. There is a clear need for diversity and sensitivity training across the board.”
Amy also noted she and her husband Mike Ramos poured over the soccer rule book and did not discover that braided hair secured with beads violated policy.
“My daughter is the real MVP. Because though she was publicly humiliated, she was the epitome of sportsmanship cheering her team from the bench,” the soccer mom noted on social media.
Amy reached out to AYSO’s cooperate office earlier this week to no response. Then, she got a reply from the regional facility Tuesday according to Think Progress.
The office said they confirmed the regulations deem beads jewelry. Because of this, players cannot wear them on the soccer field.
But when Amy and Ramos questioned where those rules were in the manual, emails showed they acknowledged it is “not specified” in the guidelines. Still, they maintained there was “no question” about beads in the hair being counted as jewelry at the national level.
According to Amy’s Facebook page, the same office publicized her story on their website before deleting it and “and never addressed my concerns directly.”
She told ThinkProgress she is now unsure of how to proceed with Aubrey and her younger soccer-playing sister’s hair. But Amy praised Aubrey’s strength online.
“I am proud of the maturity and grace my beautiful daughter has displayed through the tears.”