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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

Ohio Senate Passes Bill To Protect Religious Expression For Student Athletes

Noor Alexandria Abukaram testifies in favor of SB 181 in Senate committee. [Ohio Channel]
Noor Alexandria Abukaram testifies in favor of SB 181 in Senate committee.

A bill to protect Ohio students' religious expression during school sporting events is on its way to the House after getting unanimous support in the Senate.

Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) said she introduced SB 181 after learning about Noor Abukaram. The Sylvania Northview High School student was disqualified from a cross country meet in 2019 for wearing a hijab.

While urging support for the bill, Gavarone commended Abukaram on the Senate floor. 

"She's taking a leadership role to ensure that no student athlete in the state of Ohio, regardless if they are Christian, Muslim, or Jewish or any other denomination will ever have to choose between competing in the sport they love and their religion," Gavarone said. 

Under the bill, students cannot be prohibited from wearing religious apparel in school athletics and extracurricular activities. The legislation defines religious apparel as the "wearing of headwear, clothing, jewelry, or other coverings while observing a sincerely held religious belief."

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