Missouri Bills Would Let Homeschooled Students Play Sports
For Immediate Release: Alumni group says access to public school athletics benefits homeschooled children without harming other students
02/12/2020—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit that advocates for homeschooled children, is urging Missouri lawmakers to support House Bill 2273 and Senate Bill 875, which would grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs. Currently, the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) requires student athletes to be enrolled in an 80% course load at the school they represent, preventing homeschooled students from participating. This legislation would change this.
“Access to public school athletics benefits homeschooled students without creating problems for either public schools or other students,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE.
“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. Four in five respondents (80%) said public school athletics should be made available to homeschooled students. 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 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 taking action on HB 2273 and SB 875.”
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.