Senate passes bill to protect freedom of religious expression

COLUMBUS — The Senate unanimously passed legislation today, sponsored by State Sen. Theresa Gavarone,
R-Bowling Green, protecting freedom of religious expression for athletes.
According to the Ohio High School Athletic Association rules, participants are banned from wearing head
coverings unless the athlete has been granted special permission by the official prior to the event.
Senate Bill 288 eliminates the requirement for special permission from the OHSAA, allowing athletes to
participate in events while wearing items that reflect their religious beliefs.
“The Senate sent a strong, unanimous message today 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.”
Senate Bill 288 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 opportunity to work with Senator Gavarone was such a blessing. In which we were able to initiate
change not just for my self but for all students across the state of Ohio,” Abukaram said. “The process
was made so easy in the Senate and I pray for the best in the House. We will continue to work with
lawmakers and our communities to make strides towards fair policies so that we can continue to do the
things we love.”
Senate Bill 288 will now be sent to the Ohio House for further consideration.