Can Homeschoolers Play Sports in Public Schools?

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on August 22, 2013 8:41 AM

Homeschooling is an attractive option for many families who prefer their own method of teaching to that of public schools. But it often can exclude homeschoolers from participating in extracurricular activities like school sports.

Since there is no federal regulation governing homeschool participation in interscholastic activities like sports, homeschoolers' place on local school teams may depend on evolving state laws.

Ohio Allows Homeschoolers to Play

For example, a recent amendment to the Ohio state budget has allowed homeschool children to be a part of public school sports teams, reports Cleveland's WJW-TV.

The new law will become effective in late September, but Ohio homeschoolers are encouraged to join before then as the Ohio High School Athletic Association has already altered its rules to include homeschool kids, reports The Columbus Dispatch.

This is a victory for many Ohio homeschool parents and their children. It's also a step forward in counting Ohio among the minority of states which allow homeschool participation in public school activities.

In Ohio, all students can participate in public school activities "in districts where their parents pay taxes," reports WJW-TV.

No Homeschoolers in Some States

While almost all states provide some provision for homeschooling children, homeschoolers are explicitly barred from taking part in public school sports in some states.

For example, the California Interscholastic Federation prohibits homeschoolers or others "not enrolled in programs under the jurisdiction of a member school's governing body" to participate in interscholastic competitions.

And in Louisiana, the state Supreme Court this year struck down laws that allowed homeschool athletes to participate in public school sports, declaring that the interscholastic athletics association was essentially a private entity outside the regulation of the state.

Still, homeschooling parents should not lose hope. Ohio's recent revision to its laws is a perfect example of how the legal climate for homeschoolers in sports can change.

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