For Immediate Release: Access to public school athletics programs provides homeschooled students with substantial benefits
Canton, Ma. 02/17/2017—House Bill 58, which would allow Kentucky homeschooled students to participate in public school athletics programs and was filed by Kentucky Representative Stan Lee, is currently before the House Education Committee. “We are pleased to see this continued effort on the behalf of homeschooled students in Kentucky,” said Rachel Coleman, the executive director of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE). “The research is clear: access to public school athletics programs benefits homeschooled students in substantive and measurable ways.” CRHE was founded by homeschool graduates in 2013 to advocate on behalf of homeschooled children.
HB 58 is virtually identical to last year’s House Bill 76, which was referred to the education committee but never brought to a vote. It would allow homeschooled students to participate in interscholastic extracurricular activities, including athletics, at their assigned public school; participating students would be required to provide documents verifying their academic eligibility. “Legislation like HB 58 often faces opposition from individuals worried that allowing homeschooled students to participate would take opportunities away from other students,” said Coleman. However, the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers conducted a 2012 survey of state athletics associations which found that granting homeschooled students access to public school athletics has not caused problems in those states that have already done so. “Research suggests that homeschooled students tend to gravitate toward activities without a limit on participants, such as cross country running or tennis, so these critics’ fears seem to be unfounded,” said Coleman.
Meanwhile, studies show that participation in public school athletics programs greatly benefits homeschooled students. In October 2016, CRHE conducted a survey of 150 homeschool graduates’ athletics experiences. The participants overwhelmingly believed that athletic participation was beneficial to homeschooled students (87%) and supported making public school athletics available to homeschooled students (80%). Nate Crawford, a survey participant who was homeschooled in Kentucky, stated that, in many cases, public school athletics are “the only way for homeschoolers to participate in institutional athletics and competition.” Survey respondents who participated in public school athletics viewed their experiences positively; and many respondents, especially those whose educational and social experiences with homeschooling were more negative, believed participation in public school athletics would have improved their homeschool experience.
Sarah P., a survey participant who was homeschooled in Kentucky, believes that participation in a public school athletics program would have given her “the opportunity to engage with and make friends with people” outside of her home. “I would have learned what it means to achieve, how to share in that excitement, and how achievement can have such positive effects on one’s self esteem. I would have had another adult to look to as a role model and even perhaps someone I could talk to about what was going on at home,” Sarah said. Access to public school athletics programs provides concrete benefits for homeschooled students, especially those in rural areas.
“The evidence is clear that granting homeschooled children access to public school athletics improves homeschool outcomes,” said Coleman. “It’s time to let these children play.”
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.