Senator VillivalamSPRINGFIELD – To allow students of all faiths to practice freely, State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) passed legislation out of the Illinois Senate that would provide them with up to five days of excused absences for religious holidays.

“Illinois is a diverse state with several religious communities,” Villivalam said. “Our school calendar should reflect the diversity of our state and allow students of all faiths the flexibility to practice according to their religious calendar.”

The legislation would allow for excused absence from public schools to observe a religious holiday or participate in religious instruction. No more than five days per school year would be given to students. The legislation is an initiative of the Northern Illinois American Muslim Alliance (NIAMA).

“This would provide school children the ability to celebrate important religious holidays and strengthen the bond between their families,” said Vaseem Iftekhar, Chairman and Founder of NIAMA. “This change would be greatly welcomed by Muslim and other religious communities.”

“As the Muslim population grows in Chicagoland, it is important for school systems to recognize our holidays and customs,” said Kamran Hussain, President of the Muslim Community Center. “This would allow Muslim youth to have a sense of pride that their school recognizes and respects their values.”

“This measure ensures every student, family and community is respected, and it supports the diverse faith identities across our state,” said Dr. Dilara Sayeed of the Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition. “We are proud to support this bill moving forward."

House Bill 169 passed the Illinois Senate and awaits the governor’s signature.