New bill protects student-athlete’s right to wear religious clothing

Feb 7, 2023, 2:30 PM | Updated: Feb 23, 2023, 9:54 am
student-athletes Rep. Candice Pierucci's bill...
Rep. Candice Pierucci R-Herriman, presents HCR16, which recognizes student athletes’ rights to religious freedom and modesty, in the House chamber at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (Photo credit: Spenser Heaps. Deseret News)
(Photo credit: Spenser Heaps. Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is one step closer to making sure student-athletes can wear religious clothing, such as a hijab, while playing school sports after a new bill passed out of the committee unanimously. 

The bill, H.B. 163, addresses requirements for uniforms worn while participating in certain school athletic activities, said the Utah State Legislature webpage.

Moreso, it ensures that certain associations and educational organizations cannot prohibit student-athletes from wearing religious clothing or clothing consistent with their beliefs during participation in sports activities. 

Several teens, predominantly females, testified in a House committee on Monday, Feb. 6, regarding the new bill.

More specifically, the teens expressed to the House committee the multiple accounts of discrimination they’ve faced regarding what they wear during school sports. 

“I’ve had friends be disqualified over the color of their leggings,” said a teen girl who spoke to the House committee.

The girl did not provide her full name but said she is currently a freshman in high school and competes in school sports. 

“The countless regulations over athletic wear damages people across all cultures and religions,” the teen said. 

Sponsoring the bill is Rep. Candice Pieurcci.

Pieurcci said the bill would allow clothing to be worn under a uniform for modesty as well as religious beliefs. And if religious headwear needs to match the uniform, the bill would make the school pay that price. 

The bill is on its way to the full House, but there are still federal requirements that uniforms match.

For instance, if someone prefers to wear a shirt under their uniform, it would need to match as closely as possible, according to David Spatafore with the Utah High School Activities Association.

To learn more about the bill, click here

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New bill protects student-athlete’s right to wear religious clothing