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Vote on student-athlete religious expression bill delayed
Proposal aimed at GHSA after disqualification of runner
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The Georgia House has delayed voting on a bill that would prevent state-funded high schools from joining athletic associations that don’t allow athletes to wear clothing expressing religious beliefs.

The bill was included on the House’s schedule for Tuesday but has been put off to today.

Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gainesville, said Tuesday evening he will support the bill as it is written.

He said it “creates the opportunity” for groups such as the Georgia High School Association to accept religious expressions on clothing during competition.

Efforts to reach other Hall County legislators were unsuccessful Tuesday.

The proposal is aimed at the GHSA.

Some lawmakers have criticized the association for disqualifying a runner wearing a headband with a Bible verse on it from a recent event.

GHSA disqualified a runner from Forsyth County for a headband that included a reference to a Bible verse.

A GHSA statement at the time said, “First, let’s be completely clear that this disqualification had nothing to do with what was written on the athlete’s headband. The fact that it was of a religious nature did not enter into the decision whatsoever.”

“Also, despite published reports to the contrary, the athlete and his coach were informed before the start of the race that the headband in question was illegal and could not be worn during the race.”

The organization has said its national rules require student-athletes to be in uniform with no other adornments. Opponents of the measure say the association is a private organization following its own rules.

The measure also allows schools to compete across athletic associations.

A Senate version of the bill remains in committee. 

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