Senate District 2
Theresa Gavarone
Gavarone Bill to Protect Freedom of Religious Expression Unanimously Passes Out of Senate Committee
June 11, 2020
Senator Theresa Gavarone, Noor Alexandria Abukaram, and members of Noor's family.
Noor Alexandria Abukaram giving proponent testimony on SB 288
COLUMBUS—The Senate's Education Committee this week unanimously approved legislation, sponsored by State Senator Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green), which would protect freedom of religious expression for athletes. 

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.

Abukaram provided proponent testimony on the legislation during Wednesday's committee hearings. 

“The whole idea from the start is to inspire real change so that this never happens to anyone ever again," said Abukaram. "Working with Senator Gavarone to draft this bill is another step towards real change.”

According to Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) 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.

“I readily sponsored this legislation because no student-athlete, regardless of religious affiliation, should have to choose between competing or their religion,” Gavarone said. “Working with Noor on this bill has been an honor and I am so excited to see the positive impact it will have on Ohio’s student-athletes.”

Senate Bill 288 will now be sent to the floor for the Senate's full consideration.
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