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Statement in support of HCR 16 – Concurrent Resolution Recognizing Student Athletes’ Right to Religious Freedom and Modesty

February 24, 2022

Statement presented to the House Government Operations Committee of the Utah Legislature by Stan Rasmussen, Sutherland Institute vice president of government affairs, on Feb. 22, 2022.

As you meet today, you will be considering HCR 16 – Concurrent Resolution Recognizing Student Athletes’ Right to Religious Freedom and Modesty.

As highlighted during the 2020 Olympics, some athletes reject the idea that they should have to trade concerns with personal modesty for the opportunity to compete in sports. For other athletes, athletic-uniform policies can violate their religious beliefs, causing them to choose between their religious commitments and the chance to compete in athletics.

Given what we know about the value of athletic participation for individuals, particularly youth, it is unfair to ask students to make these tradeoffs when it is almost always very simple to accommodate religious requirements related to dress, or personal concerns about modesty, in athletic uniform policies.

HCR 16 makes a compelling case for both the value of sports to student athletes and the need to properly accommodate modesty concerns in policies about uniforms. Without micromanaging these policies, the resolution provides helpful guidelines for Utah schools to follow and establishes an important aspiration for inclusive athletic opportunities.

Last year, the Illinois legislature enacted a law to provide similar direction. Utah’s effort would provide an important example for other states to do the same.

Sutherland Institute applauds Rep. Candice Pierucci and the Legislature for looking ahead and promoting an ethic of accommodation and respect that fits well the welcoming spirit of the state.

Thank you.

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