West Virginia Should Let Homeschooled Students Play Sports
For Immediate Release: Homeschool alumni group supports SB 131 and HB 2632
02/07/2020—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit organization that advocates for homeschooled children, is urging West Virginia lawmakers to support Senate Bill 131 and its companion House Bill 2632, which would let homeschooled students participate in public school athletics programs. Currently, the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission requires student athletes to be enrolled in the public school they represent, largely barring homeschooled students from participation. “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.
While some critics 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. “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. 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. SB 131 and HB 2632 address all common objections to granting homeschooled students access to public school athletics.
In 2016, CRHE conducted a survey of 150 homeschool graduates’ athletics experiences. Survey respondents overwhelmingly believed that athletic participation was beneficial to homeschooled students (87%). 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 wrote that public school athletics programs “are very often the only access for students like myself who grew up in underprivileged areas.” Four in five respondents (80%) believed that public school athletics should be made available to homeschooled students.
Currently, 30 states grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs, putting Georgia 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 taking action on SB 131 and HB 2632.”
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.