On Thursday, State Rep. Brian Strickland, a Republican representing District 111, filed a bill that prohibits discrimination within high school athletic memberships.
House Bill 870 targets the Georgia High School Association’s restriction of certain private schools from participating in athletic events with other private and public schools, as well as addresses associations that prohibit religious expression on clothing.
Rep. Strickland explains his reasoning behind the bill in a press release from the Georgia House:
“Parents in Georgia should not have to choose between extracurricular involvement and an education when deciding what is best for their child,” said Rep. Strickland. “With HB 870, we are simply confirming that the Georgia High School Association can no longer pick and choose which schools it wants to give the opportunity to participate in athletics. These decisions should be made by the individual schools rather than a larger private entity.”
The bill proposed would prohibit any high school in Georgia that receives state funding under the “Quality Basic Education Act” from participating in, sponsoring, or providing coaching staff for athletic events under associations that prohibit religious expression of student athletes, other than what is required for safety or rules of the particular event.
It would also prohibit the participation in athletic events conducted under associations that do not allow member schools to play scrimmages, matches, or other competitions with schools outside of the association, even if both schools have already committed in writing to compete and are both in compliance with athletic code.
Religion and discrimination in schools have been issues debated for decades, although many of us do not think of it in the realm of high school sports. Rep. Strickland’s bill is an attempt to prevent the discrimination by taking away the decision-making power from larger private associations.