Senate passes bill protecting religious garb

By Press staff writer

The Ohio Senate has approved a bill written to protect freedom of religious expression for student athletes.
Senate Bill 288, sponsored by Sen. Theresa Gavarone, passed in the chamber Wednesday by a vote of 31-0.
The bill prohibits public or non-public schools or athletic conferences from adopting rules prohibiting the wearing of religious apparel by students participating in interscholastic or extracurricular activities.
Administrators or school officials can limit the apparel if it presents a danger to participants but the bill requires officials or administrators to offer reasonable accommodations.
The bill also provides civil immunity for school districts, conferences and organizations for decisions made about wearing the apparel during a competition and specifies whoever violates the bill by obstructing wearing the apparel is subject to civil action for damages.
“The senate sent a strong, unanimous message… about all Ohio student-athletes right to religious expression,” Gavarone said. “We are one big step closer to ensuring that no student in this state has to choose between playing the sport they love and their religion.”
She said the bill was inspired by Noor Alexandria Abukaram, a Sylvania Northview athlete who was disqualified from a high school cross-country race because she wore her hijab during the competition.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.
A December 2019 sports uniform regulation of the Ohio High School Athletics Association regarding religious headwear says that if a head coach represents to the referee in advance of the start of a competition that a player doesn’t want to expose his or her uncovered head, the referee must approve a covering or wrap provided that:
-It doesn’t fundamentally alter the sport
-The covering isn’t abrasive, hard or dangerous to another participant
- It isn’t attached in a way that it is likely to come off during play.


The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association