Texas state lawmakers file Tim Tebow bill

Senator Van Taylor and Representative James Frank have filed SB 640 and HB 1323, commonly referred to as the Tim Tebow bill, granting homeschool students the ability to participate in University Interscholastic League (UIL) extracurricular activities.

Senator Taylor said of the legislation, “Extracurricular activities provide tremendous experience for children to grow and teach important life skills. I believe that every child should be offered this opportunity. Home school families do an incredible job teaching their children, they pay taxes that fund these programs, and should have the same claim to participate in sports and extracurricular activities."

Representative Frank added, "Texas children should not be discriminated against and denied the opportunity to participate in group extracurricular activities simply because their parents have made the choice to provide their individual education. This opportunity is especially important for students who come from families of limited means or who live in rural areas where access to these activities is limited outside of the UIL."

In 1913, the Texas Legislature established the UIL with the stated purpose of enhancing the educational experience of all Texas students through extracurricular activities in order to equip them for good citizenship. The original constitution of the UIL opened UIL activities to all public and private school students. At that time, UIL's activities were open to home school students.

The Tim Tebow bill ends UIL's prohibition against home school student participation. Public schools participating in UIL would no longer be able to deny a home-schooled student eligible to participate in League activities the opportunity to participate in the activity on behalf of the school.

Currently, approximately 350,000 students in the state of Texas home school.

Texas Homeschool Coalition President, Tim Lambert, said of the legislation, "Home school students in 34 other states are currently allowed to participate in extracurricular activities through their local school. This legislation in other states has allowed home school students the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities without negatively impacting other home school freedoms. THSC believes that home school families, who pay taxes supporting their local school, should have access to the same opportunities through extracurricular activities as public school students."

Thanks to similar legislation passed in Florida in 1996, Tim Tebow was allowed to play football at Allen D. Nease High School, where he was named a high school All-American. Tebow later went on to play quarterback for University of Florida where he won two National Championships and was awarded the Heisman trophy. He was then selected in the first round of the NFL draft and played for the Denver Broncos and New York Jets.

SB 640 and HB 1323 clarify and instruct that while home school students may participate in UIL activities, this authorization does not grant the state, school districts, or other governmental organizations additional authority over home school students or parents beyond that required for participation in a League activity.

Senator Taylor authored a version of this bill during the 2015 legislative session and got it passed it out of the Senate by a vote of 26-5, however it did not receive a hearing in the House.

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