Ohio has made it a law to bar schools from requiring athletic participants to obtain waivers, or to restrict their religious clothing that do not pose dangers. Although The National Federation of State High School has already removed the need to require such waiver and/or restriction, a female student athlete named Noor Abukaram was still prevented from participating in an athletic competition for failing to submit a waiver that would allow her to wear a hijab during the competition.
As a result, Republican Sen. Theresa Gavarone re-introduced the law that previously failed to make it to the senate floor; this time citing the need to make the sports association ruling a law in the state of Ohio. That way, students belonging to religious groups that obeserve certain practices will no longer be barred from participating in sports competitions just because of a waiver requirement. Only recently, the legislation was approved by the Ohio House and Senate and was signed into law last month by Gov. Mike DeWine.
Background Story to Noor Abukaram’s Plight
Noor Abubakaram experienced disqualification in a cross-country race in 2019 because her coach failed to obtain a waiver that will allow her to wear the hijab required by her Muslim religion. Abubakaram’s coach said he did not apply for a waiver as he believed it was no longer necessary, although it turned out that the association holding the competition still required the waiver as part of the rules.
In order not to let other people experience same thing as she did, Abukaram reached out to Senator Theresa Gavarone, who had previously introduced such law, which was not taken up for deliberation. The Repulican Senator deemed it best to re-introduce the bill in order to stop similar events from happening again in Ohio.
Moreover, Noor shared her experience in social media sites which caught the attention and gained the support of many people belonging to different religions and cultures. The high school athletic association changed the rules; which now lets referees allow religious head coverings even without a formal waiver.