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‘Tebow Bill’ passes in house, awaits action in Senate

Published 9:41am Monday, February 11, 2013


RICHMOND—Home-schooled students in Virginia could participate in public school sports under the so-called “Tebow bill” that has been passed by the House and will be considered by a Senate committee this week.

Delegates voted 56-43 for the bill, which will be heard by the Senate Health and Education Committee on Thursday. The bill, sponsored by Del. Robert Bell, R-Albemarle, would require public schools to allow home-schoolers to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities.

Many parents who home-school their children support the legislation, which is nicknamed for NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who played football for his local high school while being home-schooled in Florida.

“I should be able to choose whether my kids play sports or not,” said Brad Foster, the father of five athletic home-schooled boys in Culpeper.

In Virginia, no student who is being educated at home can join a public school sports team during the regular season. Families with home-schooled athletes like Foster’s must find other ways to participate in sports or opt out of playing sports completely.

Foster said the opportunity for his children to play sports goes away once they reached middle school. To allow his children to play sports, Foster has organized a basketball team. However, that’s expensive because home-schooling families must rent gym space whereas public schools provide everything for sports teams, Foster said.

“We want to use the privilege because we also pay taxes for [public schools] as well,” Foster said. Parents who home-school their children are not exempt from taxes.

Virginia has more than 32,000 home-schoolers, including about 8,000 at the high school level, according to the Virginia Department of Education. Albemarle County, for example, has more than 500 home-schoolers.

The Keyser family in Albemarle County also has struggled with the problem. Ethan Keyser, 17, is a junior in high school and likes to play football and lacrosse.

“I would like the opportunity to try out on a high school athletic team,” Ethan said.

Until high school, he played both sports because of various recreation teams, according to his father, Matt Keyser. Now that Ethan is in high school, he cannot play either sport except during off-season.

During off-season, Ethan was asked to play for several traveling high-school lacrosse teams, Matt Keyser said.

“He’s 6-foot-one, 210 pounds, and every coach he has ever played said they wished Ethan could play during the regular season,” Keyser said.

Ethan is now looking to apply for college. “It would’ve looked good on my college transcripts to have that I played several high school sports,” he said.

When the House voted on HB 1442 on Jan. 31, Republicans generally supported the legislation and Democrats mostly opposed it.

Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, and Del. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, for instance, both voted against bill.


  • fhs73grad

    If a child wants to play for a public school, he or she should enroll in it and attend classes there.

    Nothing is preventing any child’s parents from educating that child beyond what is taught in the classroom or finding ways to test the child on that additional learning.

    Suggest Removal

    • seymorebutts

      So basically you feel the government should punish the children for the choices the **tax paying** parents make?

      Suggest Removal

    • simplifyingit

      Nothing is preventing any child’s parents from educating that child beyond what is taught in the classroom or finding ways to test the child on that additional learning.

      Agree wholeheartedly BUT its that “additional learning” that is taught by the knucklehead kids in public school that parents of home-schooled children want to prevent. If these kids are “exceptional” athletes as the article implies and they are allowed to join in and play it only makes the team better, which should be a positive for all involved

      Suggest Removal

  • gs

    Why would Democrats oppose this bill? I thought they were in support of the kids?

    Suggest Removal

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