Homeschool Kids Blocked From Participating In Virginia Sports

A Virginia bill regarding homeschool sports was once again voted down amid growing pleas for school choice.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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homeschool sports

A Virginia bill, known as House Bill 511, or the “Tebow” bill, was once again voted down in the Democrat-controlled Senate last week. The piece of legislation is named after Tim Tebow, the Heisman Trophy winner who led a Florida high school football team to a state title while being homeschooled in 2005. The crushing defeat for homeschool sports in the Senate comes at a pivotal time, as the state’s recently elected governor vowed to fight for the rights of school choice within Virginia’s education system.

The Democratic-controlled Senate committee defeated the Tebow Bill with an 8-7 vote. Democratic senator Lynwood Lewis was the only member of his party to vote in favor of the homeschool sports bill, while two Republican members likewise voted it down. Had the bill turned into law, it would have allowed each individual school board in the state to decide whether or not homeschooled students in Virginia could join public school teams. 

homeschool sports

The debate regarding homeschool sports intermingling with public school sports has been a heated topic with caregivers and lawmakers for more than a dozen years. But this year, more than ever, the topic has been crucial as more Republicans nationwide call for greater school choice to be given to parents and caregivers. Currently, in Virginia, homeschooled students can not participate in public school sports. 

Tim Tebow has been diligent in pushing for homeschool sports inclusion throughout the nation. Similar Tebow bills have been presented to various state governments aiming to support homeschool sports inclusivity. Since 2012, similar legislation has passed in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming. 

In a similar instance within the state of Texas, there is a homeschool sports program that has been implementing home-schooled students into athletic programs since 2012. Known as Wing Athletics, the organization provides home-schooled students the opportunity to compete and socialize in sports and other activities. While the program is great in operation, it doesn’t solve the problem faced by rural locations within the state of Virginia and elsewhere. In rural communities, home-schooled children don’t always have opportunities similar to those offered through Wing Athletics. Often, the only sports teams available to home-schooled children are those through high school facilities.

The movement surrounding homeschool sports has been gaining momentum as more and more caregivers opt for homeschooling. Those who oppose the idea say it creates an unfair disadvantage for public school athletes that are required to meet certain grade point averages. But even before the Covid pandemic found more parents electing the home school option, it seems the general consensus leaned towards allowing homeschooled students to participate in school-run programs. According to a 2016 survey from CRHE, an estimated four in five respondents said public school athletics should be made available to homeschooled students. But unfortunately for those parents hoping that House Bill 511, it seems homeschooled students in Virginia will not get to participate in public school athletics this year.