For Immediate Release: Access to public school athletics programs provides homeschooled students with substantial benefits
Canton, Ma. 01/25/2018—On January 10th, West Virginia lawmakers again introduced legislation designed to grant homeschooled students access to public school athletic programs. Currently, the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission requires student athletes to be enrolled in the public school they represent, thereby preventing homeschooled students from participating. Senate Bill 130 and House Bill 4007 would change this. “We urge West Virginia lawmakers to support Senate Bill 130 and House Bill 4007,” said 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.”
SB 130 and HB 4007 require homeschooled students who participate in public school athletic programs to demonstrate adherence to the same academic standards of public school students and bars. Some critics allege that allowing homeschooled students to participate in public school athletics programs takes opportunities away from other students, but the evidence for this is sparse. “A 2012 survey of state athletic associations that had granted homeschooled students access found that doing so had not caused problems in those states,” 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.”
Currently, 30 states grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs, putting West Virginia in the minority. “Granting homeschooled children access to public school athletics improves homeschool outcomes,” said Coleman. “We urge West Virginia lawmakers to support the state’s homeschooled students by supporting SB 130 and HB 4007.”
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.