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Former home-schooled student reacts after 'Tebow Bill' defeated in House committee

VIRGINIA – Sixth-grader Justin Mayhew is gearing up for a big sports season. He is looking forward to trying out for Staunton River Middle School's teams. 

"I mean everyone likes to play sports and I think everyone should get the privilege to play sports," said Justin. 

Justin used to be home-schooled. But his love of basketball, football and soccer led his parents to re-enroll him so he could get a chance to play.

"I found out that I couldn't play B team school sports being home-schooled and sports is the main thing for me, so I went back to public school," said Justin. 

On Monday, a bill that could have allowed Justin to stay home-schooled and still play public school sports was defeated in the Virginia House Education Committee.

"This is a bill that would create a local option. It would allow each county to make its own decision," said Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle.

The so-called 'Tebow-Bill' would have given counties the power to decide whether home-schooled students can compete in public school sports and other interscholastic programs like band and choir. While a handful of supporters highlighted the benefits of the bill during the meeting, others including powerful education groups in the state opposed it because public school students are held to certain academic standards in order to play sports. 

"Allowing students not enrolled in our schools to try out for teams creates a playing field that is decidedly not level," said Julie Simpson-Preston, with Virginia PTA.

The 'Tebow Bill' passed both the House of Delegates and Senate last year before it was vetoed by former Gov. Terry McAuliffe for a third time.

This issue was made famous by Tim Tebow. Tebow was allowed to play high school football in Florida while being home-schooled. He then became a University of Florida star quarterback and went on to play in the NFL.