Louisiana rule change allows undocumented students to play high school sports

January 25, 2019 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
Louisiana’s athletic association today amended its bylaws to allow for high school students without social security numbers to play state-sanctioned sports.

The change not only allows for greater protection of sensitive information, but it also permits undocumented immigrants to play high school sports.

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s (LHSAA) rule requiring social security numbers to play sports has come under fire in recent months. Last fall, the American Civil Liberties Union demanded that the LHSAA change its bylaws, arguing that the social security number requirement was unconstitutional.

“Children in Louisiana have a right to public education — regardless of their immigration status,” Alanah Odoms Hebert, ACLU of Louisiana executive director, said in November. “Requiring student athletes to provide their Social Security numbers is a discriminatory practice that may prevent undocumented children from participating. This show-me-your-papers policy is a cruel and unconstitutional approach to what should be a fun, inclusive and enriching activity – and a betrayal of what high school sports should be all about.”

Journalist Casey Parks wrote a lengthy feature for The Hechinger Report in November, highlighting some of the students affected by the LHSAA’s rule. The story notes that over the last decade, the number of hispanic high school students in Louisiana has grown from 17,000 to 50,000.

Shortly after Parks’ story, the ACLU released its statement and advocates for change began circulating an online petition. The petition received nearly 600 signatures.

Today, at the LHSAA’s annual convention, principals voted 185-141 to amend the bylaw. Students can now provide a social security number, student ID number or a LHSAA ID number to register for a sport.

Follow the News Stars’ live blog for more updates from the LHSAA’s annual convention.

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