Sports Access Position
Q. What is HEAV’s position on homeschoolers’ access to public school sports?
A. The rules and regulations of statewide competitions are overseen by the Virginia High School League. VHSL is a private organization comprised predominantly of 300 public high school principals and some athletic directors. VHSL rules prevent homeschoolers from participating on public school teams.
Below you will find three VHSL rules for public high school students that block access for homeschoolers.
- Bona Fide Student Rule – You must be enrolled in and in good standing in the school you represent.
- Grade Rule – You must be enrolled in the last four years of high school. Eighth-grade students may participate in high school academic activities and at the sub-varsity level in high school athletic activities for one year only while in the eighth grade without affecting high school eligibility.
- Scholarship Rule – You must have passed at least five credit subjects, or the equivalent, at the end of the previous semester and be enrolled in and remain continuously enrolled in at least five credit subjects, or the equivalent, during the current semester. (Under most 4X4 block plans, one block is the equivalent of two traditional credits, and a student who passes three is passing the equivalent of six.)
The Virginia High School League has refused to change its rules to include homeschoolers.
The tax argument doesn’t go very far with the Virginia High School League’s thinking—or with legislators’ thinking. Their response is that everyone pays property taxes, and there are many people who pay taxes for public schools who don’t use them. This would include anyone who doesn’t have a child in school (citizens with no children, retirees, private school parents, and homeschooling parents).
Note: You may read more about the tax issue here.
In past years, some parents have requested a law change through their legislators. Legislation requiring VHSL to change its rules has been introduced in the General Assembly at least ten times in ten separate years. Although state legislators seem to be more sympathetic than the courts, all bills failed except one access bill that was vetoed by Governor Terry McAuliff.
HEAV’s position is to remain neutral on sports access legislation—we do not support or oppose sports access. We have and will continue to support a parent’s right to make decisions regarding their own children. However, it is not HEAV’s purpose, as outlined in our by-laws, to pursue activities that lead to a return to public school. As an organization, our purpose is to promote and strengthen home education.
As we have done in the past, HEAV will continue to keep all homeschool parents informed about the progress of sports access legislation. We will let you know when bills are heard in committee and how to contact your legislators to share your position.
HEAV Director of Homeschool Support and Government Affairs