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?
Two bills were introduced in the 2016 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: HB131, patroned by Del. Rob Bell (R-Charlottesville) and SB612 patroned by Sen. Tom Garrett (R-Lynchburg). The intent of these companion bills is to 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. This legislation allows 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 continues to support passage of a sports access bill, 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 a sports access bill would be implemented:
From the Media? Get the facts:
Read Virginia Commonwealth University’s Commonwealth Education Policy Institute’s poll:
Commonwealth Education Poll 2013-2014 – More than seven in 10 respondents (72 percent) favored allowing students who are homeschooled to participate on local public school sport teams (up from 67% in the 2012-2013 Commonwealth Education Poll).
See what families are saying:
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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 Karen Skelton, VaHomeschoolers Director of Government Affairs.
What We Are Doing
Recent Legislative Reports
- 2016 General Assembly Sports Access Vetoed by Governor By Karen Skelton, VaHomeschoolers Government Affairs Director The VaHomeschoolers legislative monitoring team is wrapping up its work on the 2016 General Assembly session. A grand total of 3,286 bills were introduced; using a system of search terms relevant to home instruction, our team uncovered 30 bills of interest. Of these 30, six passed completely, three passed ...
- 2016 General Assembly Update “Sports Access” Bill Passes the House; Other Bills of Interest to Homeschoolers By Karen Skelton, VaHomeschoolers Government Affairs Director The Virginia General Assembly opened its yearly session on 13 January 2016, and has 2,640 filed bills to address. Your government affairs team has been hard at work searching for bills which may impact homeschoolers, meeting with legislators to discuss these bills, and attending hearings. Our job is also ...
- 2015 General Assembly Sports Access Bill Vetoed by Governor; Other Bills of Interest to Homeschoolers March 27th was a difficult day for many homeschooling families in Virginia as they learned that Governor McAuliffe vetoed HB 1626, the sports access bill that was passed by both the House (57-41) and the Senate (22-13) during General Assembly. Del. Rob Bell (R-Charlottesville) has notified leadership and asked for a veto override, something ...
- Historic Day for Virginia: Homeschool Sports Access Passes Senate Virginia’s sports access bill, HB 1626, also known as the Tebow Bill, passed the Senate yesterday 22-13, with bipartisan support. In the six years that Del Rob Bell (R-Charlottesville) has submitted a homeschool sports access bill, this is the first time that any version has cleared the Senate or even the Senate Education ...
- HB 1626H1 Sports Access Bill: House Votes Today; Other Bills of Interest to Homeschoolers The Virginia General Assembly opened its yearly session on 14 January 2015. Since each odd-numbered year hosts a short session of 45 days, the action kicked off right at the starting gate and has been keeping a fast pace ever since. Your government affairs team has been hard at work to find bills that may ...
- HB 1626: House Committee to Vote on Sports Access Bill Monday 1/26 VaHomeschoolers has just learned that the Sports Access bill (also known as the “Tebow bill”) has been scheduled to go up for a vote by the full House Education Committee this coming Monday morning in Richmond.
- Government Affairs News Release: Goochland RE Policy Repealed The Goochland school board held a four-hour meeting on Tuesday, January 13th to accommodate all the people who wanted to speak about a policy that had potential to impact families who homeschool under the religious exemption (RE). 22.1-254 The result of this meeting was a school board decision to repeal a policy change ...
- Government Affairs Update, October 2014 VaHomeschoolers met with Gov. McAuliffe’s Deputy Legislative Director to discuss homeschooling, sports access and religious exemption issues. The Legislative Monitoring Team is welcoming new members. The new Hampton City Public Schools required NOI form is currently unresolved though they made some changes to the form.
- School Division NOI Policy Changes VaHomeschoolers has been made aware of at least two school divisions who have recently changed their policies regarding the filing of the Notice of Intent (NOI) required of families homeschooling under the home instruction statute. Some of the new requirements are exceeding what is required by law.
- 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 ...
- Bigger than Campaign Promises: Homeschooling, Tax Credits, and Politics in Virginia The 2013 Virginia Governor’s race sets the agenda for this discussion because a gubernatorial candidate has aligned himself with HSLDA and a candidate for lieutenant governor has taken a pro-tax credit view painted as having universal support by homeschoolers in Virginia, which it does not. However, it’s also a timely reminder that VaHomeschoolers needs to ...
- Legislative Update – February 14, 2013 Homeschool Sports Access: HB 1442 Senate Committee Hearing Results
- Legislative Update – February 8, 2013 HB 1442 Senate Committee Hearing: Thursday, 2/14 at 8 a.m.; Home Education Month; Parental Rights; Various Education Bills
- Legislative Update: February 1, 2013 Sports Access Bill Succeeds on House Floor
- Legislative Update: January 30, 2013 Sports Access Update: House Success, Senate Hearing Expected
- VaHomeschoolers Legislative Update: January 25, 2013 Time Change: House Education Committee Hearing on Monday, 1/28 at 8:30 a.m.
- Legislative Update: January 24, 2013 House Subcommittee Approves HB 1442. SB 812 “Passed by” for the Day. Next Hearing Expected Monday, 1/28 at 9a.m.
- Press Release: House Subcommittee Agrees With Over Two-Thirds of Virginians: Let Homeschoolers Play! With homeschooling families looking on, a subcommittee of the House of Delegates’ Education Committee voted 7 to 1 this morning in favor of sending HB 1442 to the full committee for consideration.
- Legislative Report – January 23, 2013 URGENT! Hearing Scheduled for SB 812 TOMORROW AT 8 A.M.
- VaHomeschoolers Legislative Report – January 17, 2013 Hearing Scheduled for HB 1442 on Thursday, 1/24
- VaHomeschoolers Legislative Report – January 15, 2013 2013 General Assembly: Quick Action Expected on Sports Access Bills, Virtual Schools Bill
- Press Release: Homeschool Sports Access in Virginia: 2013 “Tebow” Bills Would Give School Boards Control: HB 1442 and SB 812 This year’s homeschool sports access bills specifically state that homeschool eligibility is subject to the policy of each local school board – there would be no mandate on public schools.
- VaHomeschoolers Legislative Report – January 10, 2013 Help Pass the 2013 Sports Access Bills with YOUR Story
- Press Release: House Subcommittee Agrees With Over Two-Thirds of Virginians: Let Homeschoolers Play! January 25, 2013
- Press Release: Homeschool Sports Access in Virginia: 2013 “Tebow” Bills Would Give School Boards Control: HB 1442 and SB 812 January 15, 2013
- Press Release: Senate Committee Votes Down Homeschool Sports Access Bill March 1, 2012
- Press Release: House Education Committee Approves Homeschool Sports Access Bill February 1, 2012
- Press Release: Sports Access Bill Passes Subcommittee January 26, 2012
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.