A uniform is seen as a sign of unity among teammates. For some who adhere to different religious laws of modest dress, it’s a challenge when the uniforms don’t meet their standards or they are prohibited from competing due to additional garments they need to wear.
Halima Hassan and Raneem Alsolaiman are high school athletes who have faced discrimination because of their religious attire. They spoke to the House Education Committee earlier this month to support a bill that would enable them to wear the clothing they need when they compete.
On Wednesday, the bill passed unanimously in the Senate after already passing the House. The bill, titled HB163, not only allows students playing sports to wear the religious attire or modest clothing they need, but organizations also have to provide the clothing if a specific color, style or material is required.
Halima wears a hijab and she has constantly felt like she was looked at as an outlier. Previously, she was told her hijab had to match the uniform color and material exactly or she couldn’t compete. She also didn’t receive any guidance or help from the school on this — she had to go it on her own.
“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.
JITC All-Star and Table Tennis Champion Estee Ackerman, has also been discriminated against for her modest attire — specifically at a tournament last year.
“I’m glad to see this news and happy to hear that the bill has passed. Nobody should be disqualified from any games or tournaments and should feel safe to represent their religion with modesty,” she shares.
“Those girls are in my heart,” she continues. “I will continue to work to make change to allow future generations of athletes to compete in a safe, modest and healthy way.”