Archived Story

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

Published 9:41am Monday, February 11, 2013

BY PAIGE BAXTER/CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE
baxtercp@vcu.edu 

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.

 

Editor's Picks