Two of The Family Foundation’s highest priorities this year will be voted on in the House of Delegates tomorrow. First is legislation, HB 1442, that would assist home school students in participating in public school sports, often called the “Tebow Bill; and second, HB 1617, is a bill that protects the rights of college student groups to organize according to their beliefs.

Please click here to call your delegate today and urge them to vote in favor of HB 1617 (student groups) and HB 1442 ("Tebow Bill")!

The home school sports bill, patroned again this year by Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Charlottesville), would break down barriers that prevent home school students from playing public high school sports by prohibiting localities from joining the Virginia High School League, a pseudo-state/private entity that regulates public school sports. Under the provisions of the measure, localities would not be able to contract with VHSL if they do not allow home school students to participate. Half the states in the nation have some type of measure that provides opportunities to home school students to try out for public school sports.

The children of families who pay taxes that support the local public schools and are part of our communities, continue to be denied the ability to try out for an activity that they are funding for the simple reason that they are home schooled. This discriminatory practice must end. New polling on education topics from VCU indicates that nearly two-thirds of Virginians support fairness for home schoolers, a number similar to that found in a Mason-Dixon Poll last year commissioned by The Family Foundation.

HB 1617 is a new proposal. Participating in groups and organizations with missions that match their religious or political beliefs is a longstanding tradition for college students. Unfortunately, some universities around the country have begun enacting so-called 'all-comers" policies, which essentially eliminates these groups from being able to set criteria for members and leaders. Consequently, a student group that is recognized by the university and receives funding or use of facilities cannot have any kind of requirement that members or leaders actually share the beliefs or believe in the mission of the group!

Free association is a foundational constitutional principle, but as we know, those kinds of freedoms are slowly being reduced. Incredibly, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld "all-comers" policies as constitutional, though it did not require universities to have them.

HB 1617, patroned by Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock), will ensure that the current policy of the majority of Virginia’s universities will continue.

The only opposition to this legislation that we are aware of is the ACLU, which argued against the bill earlier this week in sub-committee, in essence, that it views free association as inherently discriminatory. Despite that, the bill passed subcommittee unanimously. We have worked with representatives of various Virginia universities to ensure that they are not opposed to the bill. However, Delegate Joe Morrisey (D-74, Henrico) today attacked the bill on the House floor and attempted to add an amendment that would have forced religious groups to accept members and leaders who disagree with the groups' views on human sexuality. The House rejected the amendment, but members need to hear from you today!