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The question of whether or not a homeschool teen should be allowed to participate in public school sports programming proves to be a contentious issue, within the homeschool community as well as with public school educators and parents.

Pro-sports involvement families believe that their homeschool child should have the opportunity to compete with their peers. Many of these parents see it as a benefit of being a state taxpayer. Oftentimes these families have a talented athlete whose chance of earning a college sports-related scholarship is tied to their competing in a sanctioned league during their high school years.

Families who oppose homeschoolers participating in any publicly funded school activity usually make no distinction between academic, extra-curricular, or sports-related activities. The argument from this side of the table generally says that once one homeschooler begins to submit to extraneous verification and certification of their homeschool curricular program, little time will be lost in rewriting Maryland regulations requiring all families to meet more onerous compliance requirements.

You can read the current Maryland regulations pertaining to sports participation in public schools.

The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) has been given authority by the Maryland State Department of Education to oversee the rules and policies affecting high school sports competitions.

Their 2010-2011 Handboook states that student eligibility for high school sports includes "Students shall be officially registered and attending a member MPSSAA member school. They may represent only the school in which they are registered and at which it is anticipated they will complete their graduation requirements."

Homeschool co-ops or organized sports leagues cannot join the MPSSAA in order for their homeschool high schoolers to compete against public school athletes. Membership into MPSSAA is restricted solely to public schools, per MPSSAA's bylaws.

Currently, all public schools in Maryland are MPSSAA members. What that means for homeschoolers is that no individual public school may allow a non-enrolled public school student to play on their sports teams. Schools that do make an exception for a homeschool, non-public school, or out-of-district athlete put themselves at risk for a formal complaint and a possible penalty that may include forfeiting all games in which the homeschool athlete participated in.

Throughout the years, the Maryland Assembly has considered bills to allow homeschoolers to participate in select classes and after-school activities, such as sports. The debate, both in Annapolis and within the homeschool community, has been fierce. To date, no bill has made it out of a committee hearing.

Throughout the country, other states of grappled with the same dilemma of allowing homeschoolers to participate in sports programs. Here's a short list of policies from some states:

  • Arizona
    Allows homeschoolers to try out for sports teams and requires parents to submit written verfication of grades.

  • California
    Does not currently allow homeschoolers to participate on high school sports teams.

  • Illinois
    Homeschoolers can establish their own teams and compete against public school sports teams. If a homeschooler wants to participate on a public school team, then they must be enrolled in a minimum of 20 credit hours a week at their high school.

  • Kentucky
    Currently prohibits homeschoolers from participating in public school athletics, though a bill was recently introduced to reverse that policy.

  • Nevada
    Allows for homeschool sports participation with various conditions.

  • New Jersey
    Each district makes their own decision about partial-homeschooling and sports eligibility.

  • Texas
    A 2011 news story about the North Texas-based Home School Athletic Association and their champion basketball program.


March 30, 2020


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