Halima Hassan and Raneem Alsolaiman, high school athletes who have faced discrimination in sports because of their religious attire, spoke to the House Education Committee earlier this month to support a bill that would allow them to wear religious attire when they compete.

Should religious, modest clothing be allowed with sports uniforms?

On Wednesday, the bill passed unanimously in the Senate after already passing the House with only one nay vote. It now goes to Gov. Spencer Cox for his consideration.

HB163, a follow-up to a resolution that was run last year, would allow students who participate in sports to wear modest or religious clothing during the activity.

Do schools respect student-athletes’ modesty and religious freedom? Resolution encourages uniform accommodations

HB163 also requires organizations to provide the garment if it must be a specific color, style or material.

The bill applies to any organization that uses a public school facility, including club sports. 

Halima told the committee, “Playing sports has been hard to keep my hijab on without being looked at as the outlier.”

As a basketball and track athlete, she was told her hijab had to match the uniform color and material exactly or she couldn’t compete.

Halima received no help from the school to find the necessary attire.

Other girls playing sports could have bright, artificially colored hair, but when it came to Halima’s hijab, it had to match the rest of the uniform.

“I see that as bias for me. Everyone should be able to play a sport without barriers or discrimination of what their background is,” Halima said.

Rep. Candice Pierucci, R-Herriman, sponsored HB163 for students like Halima.

“We’re having students, kids, all over our state being told that they have to chose between practicing their religion and participating in athletics,” she said in the Senate Education Committee earlier this month.

Taking away a student’s ability to participate in sports because of religious or modest wear takes away from more than just competition, Pierucci said. She said sports play a key part in teaching leadership.

Raneem, a high school freshman volleyball and basketball athlete, said sports are a uniting event where people come together despite differences.

“I’ve had friends be disqualified over the color of their leggings,” Raneem said. All over the state students have been experiencing similar disqualifications, she said.

Raneem said that before last year’s resolution she didn’t feel comfortable playing sports with the hijab, but knowing this bill includes Muslim girls and accommodates for religious choices has helped her feel empowered.

View Comments

“I hope this bill will be able to reach all other children out there who are afraid of playing sports in accommodation to their culture,” she said.

Public support in the committee was overwhelming. Members from the Muslim Civic League, the Utah High School Activities Association and students supported and shared their stories.

In the Senate on Wednesday, Sen. Kirk Cullimore, R-Sandy, recognized Luna Banuri from the Muslim Civic League for the league’s support on the bill.

Other members from the league joined Banuri at the Utah Capitol for Muslim Day on the Hill despite Wednesday’s snowstorm. Members showed their support for the bill, smiles stretching across their faces as the bill passed the Senate unanimously.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.