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Senate Passes Bill To Protect Religious Expression For Ohio Student Athletes

Noor Alexandria Abukaram testifies in favor of SB181 in Senate committee.
Andy Chow
Noor Alexandria Abukaram testifies in favor of SB181 in Senate committee.

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

Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) said she introduced the bill, SB181, after learning about Noor Abukaram, who was disqualified from a cross country meet in 2019 for wearing a hijab while running for Sylvania Northview High School.

Gavarone, while urging support for the bill, 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. 

The bill says 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."

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.