On Tuesday the Virginia state Senate passed what is dubbed the “Tebow Bill,” a measure that would allow homeschooled children to participate in interscholastic sports in public schools.
The bill is named after former NFL player Tim Tebow, who was homeschooled in Florida and played on his local high school football team.
As the Washington Times reports, the Virginia Senate approved the state House’s bill 22-13 but amended it to allow for a local “opt-in” provision that would permit local school boards to make their own decisions about such participation by homeschoolers in their districts.
“Fundamentally, this bill is about opportunity,” said Delegate Rob Bell (R), who sponsored the House bill. “This is about giving the over 32,000 home-schoolers in Virginia the opportunity to participate in school sports, clubs and group activities. This is about letting parents decide how to design the optimal educational path for their children.”
The amended measure now heads back to the House and then to the desk of Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).
In the past, the bill never gained approval in the state Senate. According to the Times, the state’s public high school sports league and teachers’ associations claimed it “would foster an unlevel playing field for public school students subject to more stringent academic requirements than homeschooled students.”
Past versions of the bill stipulated that a homeschooled student would have to demonstrate progress in two straight academic years and comply with other requirements. Additionally, homeschooled students would only be eligible for teams in their school “attendance zone” and would be charged fees for insurance, uniforms, and equipment.
According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), currently 22 states give homeschooled students the right to access classes or sports programs in public schools.
The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers has supported the bill.