Governor Bob McDonnell recently signed an executive order that seeks to promote the employment of disabled citizens. It reads in part:
It is the policy of the Commonwealth to encourage and enable persons with disabilities, including our wounded soldiers, to participate fully and equally in the social and economic life of the Commonwealth and to engage in remunerative employment.
Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Education has recently declared that students with disabilities also have a civil right to play sports in school. Schools now will be required to either make adjustments to allow for disabled students to join their sports teams or provide alternative, parallel options.
Kareem Dale, a White House official who deals with the administration's policies towards the disabled, said. "We know that participation in extracurricular activities can lead to a host of really good, positive outcomes both inside and outside of the classroom."
Casey Followay, who competes in track races in a wheelchair, told the Associated Press that this is "going to give me the chance to compete against kids at my level." It is wonderful that Americans with disabilities are being given more opportunities to engage in their communities.
However, why is it that homeschool students are being denied this same "civil right" of playing on a sports team? If a school can work out the logistics to allow wheelchair-bound students to compete on a track team, allowing a homeschooled student to do the same should not be very difficult. If playing sports is a civil right for one group, should that not be the case for everyone? For the past three years, Virginia lawmakers have continued to deny homeschoolers this very right by voting down what is commonly referred to as the "Tebow Bill." This year, we are urging legislators to realize this hypocrisy and extend the right to be on a sports team to homeschooled students by finally passing HB 1442. If it's not right to keep disabled students from participating, it simply does not make sense to discriminate against someone simply because they are homeschooled.
To extend the argument even further, it also does not make sense to claim that a person has a civil right to play sports and to hold a job, but no right to live. Currently, Virginia taxpayers help to fund the abortions of disabled children. But our friends on the left do not think that matters very much; because now, if that child is lucky enough to survive his or her mother's pregnancy, that child can join a school sports team!
That "logic" is baffling and it unfortunately played out at the General Assembly earlier this session when the Senate Education and Health Committee defeated SB 826 on an 8-7 vote. That bill sought to end state funding for those abortions. Its passage would have been one step towards granting disabled children the most important civil right: the right to life.
Admin's note: This blog post was written by Maggie McKneely, our 2013 General Assembly college intern.