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‘This should not be up for debate’: Bill could bring change for homeschooled students not allowed to participate in UIL activities in Texas

Government

Texas homeschooled students are not allowed to participate in public school-sponsored extracurricular activities with other students their own age, and parents are starting to speak up as the Texas Legislature considers multiple bills that might change that situation.

One parent, Julie Black, spoke to Dallas Express about her children’s experiences with homeschooling and extracurricular activities.

“We all pay taxes, this should not be up for debate, the idea that discriminating against homeschooled children is asinine. I pay a lot of property taxes every year for services that my kids can’t use. My home in the rural area doesn’t even have sports teams unless it’s a school. So my son can’t play, even though I pay for everyone else’s kids to have the luxury? The politicians don’t care about our kids, they want ‘butts in the seats’ as the last school told me. You let the child get indoctrinated by government schools in order to play or stay home,” Black said. “Anyone opposing letting kids play, when parents already pay needs to be out of office, and I am spreading that everywhere. If politicians don’t pass this, we will stop listening to them, supporting and definitely won’t vote for them. The corruption needs to end, and it won’t until we say it does.”

Black said that her older children have attended college for high school credit at Austin Community College and were still not allowed to play football and run in track.

“This was a government school who tracks grades and even then, they wouldn’t allow it. This whole asking for permission from old guys in suits is over. We the parents are going to say what our kids do, not them. They can play along and pass it or get out,” she said.

The Black family isn’t alone in this situation. The Texas Homeschool Coalition reports that there are more than 20,000 families in Texas that remove their children from public school systems to homeschool instead, and those children are denied access to activities like music, debate, sports, robotics and other activities. And, up to 32% of the homeschooled children in the state live in rural areas where their access to these kinds of activities is limited even more.

Rep. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls) introduced House Bill 547, which would authorize equal opportunity for access by non-enrolled students to University Interscholastic League (UIL) sponsored activities. The UIL is the league that hosts extracurricular activities in the state.

“The prohibition against home-school student participation in UIL activities effectively eliminates extracurricular opportunities for home-school families of limited economic means or in rural areas that cannot support these private activities,” Frank said in an interview with the Nortex Times. The bill was voted out of committee on May 19.

Another similar bill, Senate Bill 491, authored by Sen. Angela Paxton (R-McKinney) was left pending in committee on May 6. Both bills would allow homeschooled students to participate in UIL activities.