An Illinois law called The Inclusive Athletic Attire Act allows student-athletes, male or female, the freedom to modify sports uniforms according to their cultural, religious, physical comfort and modesty preferences without the need for a waiver or risk of penalty.
According to the Daily Herald serving suburban Chicago, Illinois is the first state to make such accommodations by law.
"I started running cross country in my freshman year of high school. That was the year I started wearing hijab [Islamic head covering]," said Ayah Aldadah, 21, a student athlete at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who testified in favor of the law before a House committee hearing in March. "I know that I am representing a lot of Muslim girls who probably would want to do the same, but they don't know [if they can]."
The legislation was backed by a variety of interfaith communities, according to its author, Maaria Mozaffar of Plainfield, director of advocacy and policy for the Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition.
"Hijab is one example, but it's definitely not the only example," Mozaffar told the Daily Herald. "What we are seeing is a shift in the global dialogue of how women athletes are treated versus male athletes. So much emphasis is put on what their uniforms look like versus their athletic skills. We need to create spaces for all types of athletes to participate in Illinois sports. We are going to see this trend throughout the country."