Homeschoolers’ Sports Access

While homeschoolers in Virginia are allowed to enroll part-time in public school classes, they are currently not allowed to play on public high school interscholastic sports teams due to regulations established by the Virginia High School League (VHSL). The VHSL writes athletic eligibility rules and guidelines that all of its member public high schools in the state must follow.

The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers supports homeschool access to public school programs and services and since 1997 has worked to increase access at the state and local level. We have attempted numerous times to work with VHSL and other public school organizations to develop voluntary agreements to support the inclusion of qualified homeschooled students in VHSL programs. VaHomeschoolers is the only statewide homeschooling organization that has consistently lobbied in favor of sports access legislation (“Tebow Bills”) in the Virginia General Assembly.

What is the Latest on this Issue?

There is a bill in the 2014 Virginia General Assembly aimed at allowing homeschooled students the opportunity to participate in sports and other competitive interscholastic activities (such as debate) at their local public high schools:  HB 63, patroned by Del. Rob Bell (R-Albemarle) and Del. David Ramadan (R-South Riding). This bill is nearly identical to last year’s legislation, and would prohibit Virginia school divisions from being members of the Virginia High School League unless the league modifies its eligibility rules to include homeschooled students, subject to a number of rules and requirements. Homeschoolers would only be eligible to try out at the public high school assigned to their residence, and would have to have homeschooled for two full, consecutive academic years in compliance with the home instruction statute. The bill also includes other eligibility restrictions for homeschoolers, in line with many of the requirements for public school students. Just as in 2013, this legislation would allow public school systems to decide the question of homeschool eligibility at the local level, since it states that homeschool eligibility “shall be subject to all policies governing such participation that the local school board may establish.”

VaHomeschoolers supports HB 63, and will be working throughout the legislative session to communicate with homeschoolers about what they can do to help these bills become law.

Read more about how HB63 would work:

How HB 63 Would Work In Brief

Read our legislative position statements on the previous 2013 bills:

VaHomeschoolers Supports HB 1442 and SB 812 (pdf)

From the Media? Get the facts:

Journalists’ Fact Check

Read Virginia Commonwealth University’s Commonwealth Education Policy Institute’s poll:

Commonwealth Education Poll 2012-2013  - More than two-thirds of Virginians (67%) favor allowing homeschooled students to participate on public school teams

See what families are saying:

 Stories from Homeschooling Families

Learn More

 

Contact Us: If you have questions or comments about the issue of homeschool sports access, or if you are a reporter covering Virginia’s “Tebow Bills” and would like to request an interview, email Amy Wilson, VaHomeschoolers Director of Government Affairs.

What We Are Doing

Recent Press Releases

Recent Legislative Reports

2014

  • Yesterday at the General Assembly Sports Access Bill Dies Results of Other Bills The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers was proudly represented yesterday by not only its lobbyist, Scott Price, but by many articulate homeschooled students who spoke in support of HB 63. In spite of their heartfelt and intelligent testimony, the Senate Education and Health Committee still voted 9 to 6 to pass by indefinitely the bill, which means ...
  • Sports Access Bill (HB 63) Set to be Heard Thursday, 2/20 at 8:30a.m. Delegate Rob Bell’s (R-Albemarle) bill HB63, known as the Tebow Bill, is scheduled to be heard before the full Senate Education and Health Committee this Thursday, February 20 on the first floor, Senate Room B of the General Assembly Building, at 910 Capitol Street in Richmond at 8:30 a.m. Show Your Support!If you believe homeschoolers should have the right ...
  • Great Week for Homeschoolers at the General Assembly Last week the two bills in the General Assembly that had the greatest potential to affect homeschooling both saw success.  And a bill of concern was amended to make it innocuous to homeschoolers. VaHomeschoolers was happy to see our monitoring and lobbying efforts bring positive results. HJ 92 – Religious Exemption Study Killed in Committee Del. Tom Rust’s bill, HJ ...
  • Hearing Scheduled for HB 63 on Wednesday, 1/22 Delegate Rob Bell (R-Charlottesville) has informed us that his bill, HB 63 (public school sports access for homeschoolers), is scheduled for a subcommittee hearing this Wednesday, January 22 on the first floor, House Room D of the General Assembly Building, at 910 Capitol Street in Richmond.  This subcommittee meets upon adjournment of the full House Education Committee, which commences at 8:30 a.m.  We have ...
  • Sports Access Proposed Again; Religious Exemption Threatened The Virginia General Assembly opened its 2014 session this past Wednesday, January 8 and it has already produced many bills of interest to homeschoolers; some very positive, others concerning and one that is an outright threat.  As a result of these various bills and accompanying explanation, this will probably be the longest legislative announcement VaHomeschoolers has ever written ...

2013

2012 VSBA Meetings

During the summer and fall of 2012, the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) hosted a discussion group aimed at bringing together stakeholders interested in the question of homeschooled students’ participation in public school interscholastic sports and activities at the high school level.  VaHomeschoolers was the only discussion group participant to represent the views and interests of homeschooled students and their families. Other participants included representatives of the Virginia High School League, the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, the Virginia Secondary School Principals Association, and the Virginia Parent Teacher Association, as well as a number of public school principals, athletic directors, and superintendents.  The discussion group met three times, over July, September and October.

While the meetings presented a valuable opportunity to discuss practical and equitable measures by which qualified homeschoolers could demonstrate their eligibility to participate in interscholastic programs at their local public high schools, unfortunately, opponents to homeschooled students’ participation declined to consider compromise of any kind.  There was one positive outcome of the discussion group:  the assemblage of a valuable collection of documents that will help to educate and inform constituents, legislators and the general public about the topic (see the second link, below).

The following links offer more information about the discussion group and VaHomeschoolers’ participation:

VSBA Discussion Group Public Documents Portal
VaHomeschoolers provided discussion group members with a wealth of documents related to homeschooling in Virginia and homeschool sports access laws and policies in other states. The portal also includes documents and perspectives from group participants who oppose homeschool sports access.

About the VSBA Discussion Group on Homeschool Sports Access – July 6, 2012
VaHomeschoolers’ initial announcement of our participation in the Sports Access Discussion Group.

Homeschool Sports Access: Our Work in the “Off-Season” – August 14, 2012
A summary of the first Sports Access Discussion Group meeting and of VaHomeschoolers’ informal survey of several state athletic associations where homeschool sports access already has been implemented.

VaHomeschoolers Legislative Report – September 14, 2012 
A summary of the second Sports Access Discussion Group meeting, where VaHomeschoolers presented information on homeschool sports access laws and policies in other states.

Sports Access Discussion Group Update – October 3, 2012
A summary of the final Sports Access Discussion Group meeting and of VaHomeschoolers’ informal survey of several state athletic associations where homeschool sports access already has been implemented.


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