For Immediate Release: Everyone wins when homeschooled students are allowed to play on public school sports teams
Canton, Ma., 01/30/2019—If Missouri lawmakers pass Senate Bill 130, homeschooled students may finally be able to participate on public school athletics teams governed by the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA). SB 130, which would force the MSHSAA to change its current policy by barring public schools from participating in statewide activities associations which prohibit homeschoolers, was introduced by Sen. Ed Emery and has been referred to the Senate Education Committee. “We urge lawmakers to support SB 130,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit organization that advocates for homeschooled children. “It is well-documented that access to public school athletics programs benefits homeschooled students without creating problems for either public schools or other students.”
While critics allege that allowing homeschooled students to participate in public school athletics programs takes opportunities away from other students, the evidence for this is sparse. “In a 2012 survey, state athletic associations that allow homeschooled students to compete on public school teams reported that this policy had not created problems for them,” said Coleman. “Further, research suggests that homeschooled students tend to gravitate toward activities without a limit on participants, such as cross country running or tennis.”
In 2016, CRHE conducted a survey of 150 homeschool graduates’ athletics experiences and found that participants overwhelmingly believed that athletic participation was beneficial to homeschooled students (87%) and that public school athletics should be made available to homeschooled students (80%). Many participants noted that community athletics programs were often limited: “Once I reached junior high age there were no longer any community sports available,” wrote one participant; another noted that public school athletics programs “are very often the only access for students like myself who grew up in underprivileged areas.”
Dawn, who was homeschooled in Missouri, supports making public school athletics available to homeschooled students. When asked how she thinks participation in public school athletics programs would have affected her education, she said “it would have built confidence and been a place for creativity and positive peer relationships,” adding that “it is important for homeschoolers to be plugged into local community in some way.” Marie, also homeschooled in Missouri, agrees. “Anything that helps integrate homeschool kids into their wider local community, giving them adults as role models and other people who can spot possible abuse, is almost always a good thing,” she says.
Currently, 30 states grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs, putting Missouri in the minority. “Granting homeschooled children access to public school athletics improves homeschool outcomes,” said Coleman. “We urge Missouri lawmakers to support the state’s homeschooled students by supporting SB 130.”
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The Coalition for Responsible Home Education is a national organization founded by homeschool alumni and dedicated to raising awareness of the need for homeschooling reform, providing public policy guidance, and advocating for responsible home education practices.