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  • Writer's pictureRep. Candice Pierucci

Week 6: Religious Freedom & Sports

Dear Constituents,

As the sixth week of the legislative session comes to an end, I hope you and your families are doing well. The 2022 General Session ends next week, and I wanted to follow up with you on legislation I’ve been working on with my colleagues up at the legislature.

HCR 16: Concurrent Resolution Recognizing Student Athlete’s Right to Religious Freedom and Modesty

Over the interim I met with the Muslim Civic League and learned that there are children and young people in our state who are being told that they cannot wear religious headwear (like a hijab) while participating in sports without a waiver, or approval to “alter” their uniform to meet their own modesty standards. One student shared that she was cut from a team when she asked for the ability to wear her hijab while playing her sport.

I met with the High School Athletic Association to get a better understanding of the waiver process. Right now, high school sports are not supposed to require waivers for students to wear religious headwear, but for kids participating in sports from kindergarten to ninth grade, the policies vary by districts, schools, and with athletic programs outside of education.

On Tuesday, I presented HCR 16: Concurrent Resolution Recognizing Student Athlete’s Right to Religious Freedom and Modesty to the House Government Operations Committee. Later this week, the First Lady, Abby Cox, and Luna Bunari, the Director of the Muslim Civic League joined me on the house floor for the presentation of the resolution, the bill passed unanimously with all 75 representatives voting.

In the coming year, I'll be working with the First Lady, Muslim Civic League, cities and other organizations to raise awareness on this issue to remove barriers for youth seeking uniform accommodations to participate in sports.Given Utah’s heritage, religious freedom and personal standards of modesty should be something we welcome and respect.

Utah Warriors Rugby Team Citation

I was grateful to have the opportunity to honor the Utah Rugby Warriors this week. The Warriors' Coach, Shawn Pittman, was named 2021 Major League Rugby Coach of the Year for his outstanding leadership of the Warriors. Pittman was selected to be the Head Coach of the Eagles, the United States' National Rugby Team, representing the United States in men's international rugby competitions.

It was great have the Warriors' lead back, Mikey Te'o, join me on the house floor for the citation. Mikey was the 2021 MLR Player of the Year for his outstanding season. He led the Warriors to the most wins in a season in the history of the franchise!

HB 341: Birth Certificate Modifications Nearly three years ago, I delivered my little boy at the hospital. On the day we were trying to leave, my husband and I were told we couldn’t check out or receive a birth certificate for our son until we filled out a 100+ question survey, on top of the hospital’s required paperwork and surveys. There was no option for me to just complete the information actually needed to apply for a birth certificate form, nor an opportunity for me to consent to have my personal health information collected and used for research. In the fall of last year, Channel 2 covered this issue extensively and highlighted Ivy Estabrooke’s experience, a Utah mother who has been trying to have her personal information removed and find out what studies it has been used for so far. You can read this story here. Yesterday, I presented HB 341: Birth Certificate Modifications to the House Health and Human Services Committee. The bill passed unanimously and will be making its way to the House floor for a vote. The bill does the following:

  1. Reduces the number of required questions asked in the Health Department's survey from 100 to 27.

  2. The Health Department must clearly mark which questions are REQUIRED and which questions are OPTIONAL.

  3. Requires the Health Department to inform parents what their information is being collected for, when their data will be used and how long it will be kept.

  4. Puts protections in place to require the Health Department to adhere to a regular schedule of deleting personal information and reducing the amount of personal information collected and stored.

  5. Requires the Health Department to create a pathway for an individual to recall information that has been shared from previous surveys conducted.

The goal of this bill is to limit the burden of government, streamline the birth certificate application process and protect the privacy of individuals, particularly new parents.

Generational Investments

One of our top priorities this session is to build a legacy through generational investments. As the state looks forward, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make large-scale investments. The following bills will ensure our kids and grandkids continue to enjoy the quality of life we know and love.

  • HB 409 Recreation Infrastructure Amendments: Establishes sustainable funding for outdoor recreation across the state.

  • HB 443 Utah Inland Port Authority Amendments: Aligns the UIPA board with its statewide mission & creates a process for the Port and local municipalities to work together to bring about economic, environmental, and community benefits.

In the News

  • Do schools respect student-athletes’ modesty and religious freedom? Resolution encourages uniform accommodations

  • Resolution advances on religious accommodations for youth athletic uniforms

  • Letter: Education isn’t a one size fits all program

  • Opinion: Why I left public education

  • Katherine Bathgate: Utah Legislature is right to vote for Hope Scholarships

  • Opinion: Support the Hope Scholarship bill

We are coming up on the last week of the session! Feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns you have. Thank you again for the opportunity to represent our community, it is truly an honor to work with you and for you.

Bills Passed This Week

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