TOPEKA (KSNT) – Homeschooled students in Kansas could soon be allowed to participate in the same sports and activities as their peers who attend public school.

The K-12 Education Budget Committee is raising the question: should homeschooled athletes compete with school-enrolled athletes?

This debate was addressed at the Jan. 25 meeting. If passed, the measure would force the Kansas State High Schools Activities Association and school districts to allow homeschooled students to participate. A KSHSAA spokesman testified it would be unfair to students.

“The accountability and eligibility process of me and my teammate going through the same standards,” Assistant Executive Director Jeremy Holaday said. “We know that we’ve earned that right to participate, and it’s a privilege more than it is a right.”

KSHSAA leaders believe the rigor of the coursework and athletics should closely match.

“Interscholastic activities, we’ve always said, is the second half of education,” Holaday said. “And if you don’t have the first half, then you can’t have the second half.”

Steve Poage is the athletic director for NEK Homeschool Activities, an athletic and activity organization for homeschooled students in the region. He believes his organization already provides athletic opportunities for homeschooled students.

“We represent a number of different homeschools in the Topeka and northeast Kansas area,” Poage said. “We wouldn’t want anything like that to keep them from being homeschooled, so it’s great to have that opportunity to provide athletics and other activities for the homeschooled communities.”

Steve says many homeschooled students across the state may not have the same access to activities as those enrolled in schools.

“This could open up opportunities that they don’t have otherwise available,” Poage said. “We’re in the midst of basketball season right now and there are a number of homeschool basketball programs across the state that really cover almost every corner of the state.”

The committee is currently working on the bill and will decide whether to send it to the full House.