SPRINGFIELD – To ensure schools are sensitive to the health and wellness of students of all backgrounds, State Senator Adriane Johnson (D-Buffalo Grove) sponsored a plan to permit students to avoid rigorous physical activity during periods of religious fasting, which has been approved by both chambers of the Illinois legislature.

04202021CM0095“Common PE activities like running and playing sports can be particularly exhausting—and even dangerous—when kids are hungry,” Johnson said. “The passage of this bill shows Illinois’ commitment to the health and safety of kids across all our communities.”

The legislation would allow students who are fasting for religious purposes to be excused from physical education activities for the duration of the religious fasting period, if the student’s parents have sent in written notification to the school principal.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast every day from sunrise to sunset as a form of spiritual discipline. Jewish people traditionally observe Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism, with a day-long fast and intensive prayer, and several Christian denominations practice full or partial fasting on certain occasions, including during Lent.

Fasting can cause dizziness, fatigue, headaches and dehydration, which may lead to weakness or fainting, especially during exercise.

“Every student deserves to feel supported and comfortable at school,” Johnson said. “A major part of that is allowing them to observe their religious traditions without risking their health.”

House Bill 160 passed the Senate Thursday with bipartisan support.