The state Senate could consider a bill to allow school boards to decide if home-schooled students in Virginia can join public school sports teams.
Del. Marie March, R-Floyd, introduced House Bill 511, which advanced on a narrow 50-49 vote. Two Republicans voted against the measure and one Democrat did not vote. The legislation is also known as the “Tebow bill” for former NFL star Tim Tebow, who was home-schooled in Florida but played public school football.
March said the bill would not be a statewide mandate, but instead allow local school boards to establish a policy that would permit home-schooled students to participate in their programs.
The bill would allow fees to be charged to students to cover participation costs, as well as the costs of additional insurance, uniforms, equipment, and facility upkeep and maintenance.
“This could be a way for the public schools to recoup some of the money and make some money to fund their programs,” March said. “I really am hoping if it could pass, one of my local schools in Floyd County could do the pilot program to figure out what works best, and then we can get other schools to tag along.”
Thirty-five other states passed similar legislation, according to the Texas Home School Coalition. Virginia approved a similar measure in 2017, which was vetoed by former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin supports the bill during a time when the state has seen a spike in homeschool education, March said. However, it is expected to face challenges in a Senate that has a slight Democratic edge, according to March. March hopes senators will see an upside for schools to gain extra funding while giving home-schooled students a chance to participate.