Senate approves bill allowing religious expression on sports uniforms

The Georgia Senate on Thursday passed its version of legislation to allow students to express religion on sports uniforms.

Senate Bill 309, sponsored by Sen. Burt Jones, R-, Jackson, is a companion to legislation passed the Georgia House last week.

The bills are a reaction to the disqualification of a West Forsyth High School runner from a track meet last year because he wore a headband with a Bible verse during a race.

The Georgia High School Association had opposed the legislation because it would put the state group in violation of its national association’s policies, which prohibit any individual expression on team uniforms. The legislation could also jeopardize some influential positions on the national rule-making board for the Georgia association.

Senate Democrats opposed Jones’ bill, which they said could lead to problems and possibly allow for all types of religious expression including references to extremist group ISIS.

Despite the opposition, the Senate bill passed along party lines, with a 39-16 vote.

Like the House version, the Senate bill would also allow play between teams that are members of the Georgia High School Association, and those that are not, such as teams at private schools and Christian schools. That kind of interplay is currently not allowed under Association rules.

The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

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