Hawaii Bill Would Let Homeschooled Students Play Sports

For Immediate Release: Alumni group says HB 2149 is good for homeschooled students

02/12/2020—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, is urging Hawaii lawmakers to support House Bill 2149, which would grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs. Currently, the Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA) requires student athletes to be enrolled in the public school for which they compete, barring homeschooled students from participating. HB 2149 would change this. “Access to public school athletics programs benefits homeschooled students without creating problems for either public schools or other students,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE.

HB 2149 would allow any homeschooled student who “meets the participation requirements and restrictions for an individual sport, including maintaining appropriate grade point averages, paying appropriate fees, and signing a release and express assumption of risk waiver” to participate on the team of the school they would have otherwise been required to attend. 

“Homeschooled students who participate in athletics in their local public schools typically gravitate toward activities without a limit on participants, such as cross country running or tennis,” said Coleman. Critics frequently allege that allowing homeschooled students to participate in public school athletics programs takes opportunities away from other students; Coleman says the evidence for this is sparse. A 2012 survey of athletic associations in states that allow homeschooled students to participate in athletics at their local public schools found that this policy had not created problems for either students or schools. 

In 2016, CRHE conducted a survey of 150 homeschool graduates’ athletics experiences. Some respondents noted that athletics programs outside of public schools were limited, especially at later grades: “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.” 

Currently, 30 states grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs, putting Hawaii in the minority. “Granting homeschooled children access to public school athletics improves homeschool outcomes,” said Coleman. “We urge Hawaii lawmakers to support the state’s homeschooled students by taking action on HB 2149.”

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education empowers homeschooled children by educating the public and advocating for child-centered, evidence-based policy and practices for families and professionals. 


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