Thursday, January 24, 2013

Action Alert: Support Key Bills in House Education

Victoria Cobb, President
The Family Foundation of Virginia

Two of The Family Foundation’s highest priorities this year will be voted on in the House Education committee Monday morning.  The first, HB 1442, is legislation 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 contact 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, once again this year patroned 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 (VHSL), 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 don’t 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 participate in 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 indicates that nearly two-thirds of Virginians support fairness for home schoolers.


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 couldn’t 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 didn’t 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 the legislation that we are aware of is the ACLU, who argued against the bill earlier this week in subcommittee, in essence, that they view 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.

ACTION: Please contact your Delegate today and urge them to vote in favor of HB 1617 (student groups) and HB 1442 (Tebow Bill)!