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Home-field advantage

"Home-field advantage" Continued...

Issue: "Gay marriage backlash," Dec. 6, 2003

When Daniel reached high school, he wanted to play football. But in Amherst, what Mrs. Lyman calls a "quintessential New England liberal college town," there are few homeschoolers. With no opportunity to form a league of their own, the Lymans, "without enthusiasm," allowed Daniel to play on a local high-school football team. Daniel excelled, went on to play high-school lacrosse and ice hockey, and ultimately became the only student-homeschooled or not-to play every contact sport offered at the school.

On the downside, said Mrs. Lyman, he spent a lot of time mixing with teens brought up in an aggressively liberal academic environment: "Danny was smart and not easily intimidated.... He could hold his own, but certainly was very intrigued by public-school culture."

What Daniel really lacked, the Lymans realized, was camaraderie with young Christian men. That's why they chose a different route for their younger son, Wid. On a vacation several years ago, the Lymans passed through Bozeman, Mont., and liked the feel of the town. They later learned that Montana-a state that prohibits homeschool participation in public-school sports-has a vigorous homeschool sports community. Now, in an unusual arrangement, the Lymans organize their work schedules so that the family can spend winters in Montana, where Wid plays ice hockey for a privately run team and basketball for a homeschool league.

Though their younger son has flourished in Montana homeschool sports, Mrs. Lyman said the scarcity in Amherst of sports alternatives for Daniel has made her "a lot more sensitive to homeschoolers who have teen boys looking for outlets. If you live in a community where there aren't a lot of homeschool sports, you're kind of in a bind." Mrs. Lyman believes home educators must handle the issue on a case-by-case basis, according to the gifts and temperaments of their children.

Some state legislatures are considering bills that would remove school districts' case-by-case discretion. HB 214, a Texas bill that would have granted homeschoolers full equal access, died in the House after the Texas education department complained about its fiscal impact. The department's estimate was far too high, said THSC's Tim Lambert, adding that the legislature may reconsider HB 214 in an upcoming special session.

In Pennsylvania, a bill that would require public-school districts to allow homeschoolers to join in activities "including but not limited to clubs, musical ensembles, sports, and theatrical productions" passed the House and is now under consideration in the Senate education committee.

That means Daniel Rodriguez may yet get a chance to play Solanco High School basketball with his friends. "They think it's dumb that I can't [play]," Daniel said. "I hope it changes."

-with reporting by Bethany Toews

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