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No. 5

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Discrimination Averted

Shreveport recently celebrated its 23rd annual ArtBreak Festival, which gives students an opportunity to demonstrate skills in everything from painting to dance to vocals. Over the years, homeschooled students have participated in the ArtBreak competition and performed well.

However, as homeschooled students hurried to submit their festival applications for the 2006-2007 year, they were told they would not be permitted to participate. This was particularly troubling news to one Home School Legal Defense Association member family whose talented daughter had previously won first place in the vocal competitions. When the Leblanc family (name changed to protect family’s privacy) attempted to appeal to ArtBreak officials, they were told that admitting homeschooled students would be unfair to public school students. The Leblancs immediately contacted HSLDA for help.

Staff attorney Thomas Schmidt contacted various ArtBreak officials, reminding them that the event is partly sponsored by the City of Shreveport and event literature specifically states that the festival is for the benefit of all students in the area. Schmidt also expressed concern that barring homeschoolers from participation might be considered discrimination, and any public outcry could also cause the festival’s corporate sponsors to reevaluate their participation in the event.

Quickly reversing course, the contacted officials again welcomed the homeschooled competitors, many of whom later claimed prizes in various competitions.

— by Thomas J. Schmidt