PODCAST: Ohio students closer to getting religious accommodations

By J.D. Davidson | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Ohio colleges and universities could soon be required to develop a policy that would provide religious accommodations for students following the General Assembly’s passage of bipartisan legislation.

The Testing Your Faith Act, which now heads to Gov. Mike DeWine, also prohibits institutions of higher learning from imposing academic penalties on students due to an absence under the policy.

“The diversity of Ohio comes in many forms including religious diversity,” said Rep. Gary Click, R-Vickery. “Students in our universities come from a variety of Christian denominations, Jewish traditions, Muslim sects and other systems of belief. The one force that should unite all faiths is religious freedom and liberty.”

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House Bill 353 would also:

• Require that students who miss exams or other academic obligations as a result of these absences must be provided with alternative accommodations.

• Require students to provide instructors with a written notice of the specific dates they will be absent within the first 14 days after the first day of an academic course.

“Any person of faith knows that each year there are occasions when they must prioritize their religious obligations. While many college professors appreciate this and provide the necessary accommodations to their students, there is currently no requirement that they do so,” said Rep. Jessica Miranda, D-Forest Park. “The Testing Your Faith Act would make sure our higher education systems are truly inclusive of the religious freedoms our country was founded upon.”

The bill received wide bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

“Individuals pursuing higher education face many necessary challenges and stressors that build their character and confidence,” Click said. “However, one conflict that they should not have to face is the decision between academic excellence and religious fidelity. I strongly believe that no students should be required to jeopardize their academic standing in order to observe a religious holiday.”

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