A religious freedom bill that was supported by the Ohio Jewish community has become law.
The bill signed by Ohio Governor Mike De Wine on February 28, which received bipartisan support in the state legislature, mandates that high schools accommodate religious beliefs, including clothing and head coverings during athletic events, the Fox19 reported.
Senate Bill 181 was also supported by the American Civil Liberties Union and Christian and Muslim groups. It passed with unanimous support in the state House and Senate.
The legislation states that "no public or nonpublic school, school district, interscholastic conference, or organization that regulates interscholastic athletics shall adopt a rule, bylaw, or other regulation that prohibits or creates any obstruction to wearing religious apparel when competing or participating in interscholastic athletics or extracurricular activities, including requirements that participants obtain advanced approval, written waivers, or any other permission.”
“Both federal and state jurisprudence are clear: the rights of individuals to free expression without undue burden are broad,” Howie Beigelman, executive director of Ohio Jewish Communities (OJC), told the Cleveland Jewish News. “The U.S. Department of Justice and some state attorneys general maintain bureaus dedicated to prosecuting violations of free expression, including Ohio. We believe students engaging in interscholastic athletics deserve this right no less than others.”
He said that the legislation tells Jewish students that “you’re welcome here and you’re equal and you can be who you want to be, and who your faith tells you to be and be fully a part of everything that’s going on.”