Ga. bill allows student athletes to express personal religious beliefs during sporting events

Nathan DealGeorgia Gov. Nathan Deal speaks to the Atlanta Press Club in April 2015. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal earlier this month signed into law a measure that allows student athletes to express their personal religious beliefs during sporting events.

Senate Bill 309 also enables high schools, which receive state funding, to participate in athletic competitions with schools outside of their designated conference.

“Expressing ones beliefs and principles is a right that no one should be denied,” state Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson, said in a news release. “It is also a huge step in the right direction to let athletes compete with members outside of their conference because it will increase the drive, skill level and motivation for athletes around the state. With increased competition, they will be motivated to do the best they can to stay at the top of their game.”

SB 309 allows student athletes to express their personal religious beliefs as long as the expression does not affect the safety of other participants or the conduct of the athletic event, according to officials. It also allows schools to organize sporting events with nonmember schools if both administrators agree in writing to participate in the event.

Each school requesting to participate in the event must be in compliance with physical exams and management of concussions. All athletic events are limited to high school student athletes only.

Senate Bill 309 goes into effect on July 1, 2016.

About the author

Express Telegraph

Express-Telegraph is a news outlet for the 21st century. Based in Metro Atlanta, the outlet focuses on news, politics and sports centered on The Peach State. Get on board the Express.