Events of late have got me thinking about a lot of things, including sex ed, my relationship to popular culture and society, and how advocacy groups work, among other things. It made me think in a broader sense about my life as well, where I came from and where I am going. I’ve traversed a lot of ground. Enough to make my head spin, really, and like Lana Hope saying there is no pure narrative, I know I don’t have answers to all that stuff and I find myself growing more comfortable with not knowing, with moving forward based on sense and feel, not proscriptive mandates on how to live life. It is freeing.
I am happy to be learning and growing, figuring out how to live in a way that isn’t emergency mode. Still, sometimes fun is hard for me, as are certain simple daily responsibilities. The big stuff comes easier. It’s the little daily things that don’t. There are so many areas where I still feel like I’m playing catch-up, where I feel I don’t have the space or the organizational skills or the habits, where I feel I’m still scrambling. I have to tell myself that having fun and practicing new things that I am not sure I will be good at are forms of self-care, and I think it is true.
As it is, I had a pretty fun weekend and it involved doing some things that are new and that made me feel happy. For example, as a former homeschool girl, immodestly shaking my butt in a group setting still doesn’t come easy, but I went in there and took a Zumba class a friend of mine is teaching at the local Y. I wasn’t very good at it, but I completed the workout, got in my cardio, and am going back again next time. I didn’t let shame or fear of looking stupid hold me back, but it was hard not to. I was nervous. I judge myself. I am still trying to teach myself the opposite of what was drilled into me growing up, and that is that there is room for mistakes. There is room to be vulnerable, room to look stupid, room to make errors, room to screw up and try again. There is also room to trust, but this last one is also often hard for me. It may seem that because I am open I am trusting, but that isn’t quite it and fact is I still struggle a lot with trust and discerning what is safe and what isn’t. I worry about getting screwed over, about having a comfortable space suddenly feel unwelcoming or downright hostile and I can sometimes be hypervigilent about it. I don’t think I am the only one from my background with this issue. After all, many of us came from homes that were more like boxing rings.
To do advocacy work at the same time as healing and confronting these realities with my own body and heart and mind can feel a bit like standing naked in front of a crowd. In fact, standing naked in front of a crowd might be easier, because after all, everybody has bodies. Not everybody has a story of where they grew up in a Quiverfull family and all the odd problems it caused. Telling my story is kind of like coming out of the closet (at least a closet) I guess. You let people know something intimate and personal about you in order to further a cause and live more free, hoping they will understand and that you can still belong, maybe belong even more than you did when you were pretending to be just like them. Lots of times they don’t understand though, and that space in between you opening your mouth and them responding in which you have to steel yourself for a negative outcome is pretty gut-wrenching. Really, it’s no wonder most people keep quiet about it. The stakes are high, the possibilities of misunderstanding and loss, distinct.
So I faced that gut-wrenching, waiting-for-the-verdict phase after the “Homeschool Apostates” story came out, briefly freaked out after I’d read it the first time, and I can now definitively say that it was worth it and something cool is happening – the fostering of dialogue. It is amazing to think that telling parts of my story, being vulnerable, can help set a good example for others to do so too, or at least get the issue on the radar in places where it previously didn’t exist.
So yeah, it’s a unique situation to realize you have people like Richard Dawkins, Dan Savage, and the creator of VeggieTales all talking about an article you were interviewed in, but that’s what happened last week. I had to smile because the first one would have gotten me serious street cred with my Grandad (he thoroughly enjoyed the writings of polemical atheists and being a man didn’t have to address the prevalent sexism in the movement) and it made me wish he was still alive so I could tell him about it. I joked with my roommate, who has done academic research on rape culture in abstinence-only sex ed, that now Dan Savage knows I mistook oral sex for French kissing and how weirdly hilarious that is to me, and she talked about how she loved his podcast. My Mom didn’t know who either of the first two men were but I expect she’ll be thrilled at the one about VeggieTales when I tell her. After all, my Momma looooooves her some VeggieTales and I know for a fact that Silly Songs with Larry has brightened many an overwhelming day for her.
This all got me thinking a lot about stuff that policy nerds like me think about in our spare time. You know, issue silos and social capital and power dynamics and dialogue and funding for underserved populations and bridging information gaps and I may have even thought for a few minutes about the polity-centered approach. Then I had a conversation on Twitter with Chris Jeub, Quiverfull father of 16 and homeschool debate coach. He had responded to the “Homeschool Apostates” story with a blog post saying that he thought Kathryn Joyce had hastily mischaracterized things, that he would like more data to back up her assertions, and he thinks homeschooling is a good thing that she was trying to sensationalize for the media with extreme stories.
A couple ex-homeschoolers got mad at him and told him to shut up. Others did their best to set him right as to why we don’t currently have the data he is looking for and how we’d all love to get our hands on it too – have some solid numerical answers. I told him that in my experience the story Kathryn told was true and well-researched. I also didn’t tell him to shut up. I asked him what he thought could be done to improve homeschooling. I wanted to hear what he had to say. So we had a conversation, a good conversation. Here it is, if you’d like to read it.
Now, you might think that my approach and Lana Hope’s approach and Sarah Jones’ approach and Chris Jeub’s approach to dialogue are all very different and may not be compatible and that some people’s agendas overlap a lot more than others, and in a way you’d be right, but in another way I think we all do agree on something fundamental. We all want talk and situational change to be respectful, believing that there is inherent value in it. I think we might even all agree on what a respectful debate looks like if we sat at the same table. Where we differ is in how to get it and who gets to send the invitations and who gets to hold the mic and direct the traffic. As usual, the devil is in the details and commonalities are buried beneath differences.
I firmly believe that if people like Dawkins and Savage and the VeggieTales guy are all talking about this homeschooling issue that ordinary people can talk too. Christian patriarchs can talk. Moms and Dads of 16 kids can talk and each and every one of their 16 kids can talk. You can talk and write about this stuff all you want. You have my permission (not that you needed it, or were sitting around waiting to be asked), but go ahead, knock yourself out. Say what you want.
However, I will also say that my fellow advocates and I are right to be wary and you are right to be careful (and wrong if you aren’t being careful). How you talk and what you say impacts us, so keep that in mind. There is risk to those of us who are working so hard to bring our previously untold stories to the forefront, and we often think about being stigmatized or co-opted against our will, perhaps both. So please be cognizant of the risk we face and recognize that we have worked hard and sacrificed for this and at this defining moment please take care not to label us as something we are not, or associate us with something that we aren’t, and if you do so, don’t be surprised if we push back.
Also, a friendly but firm reminder to anyone who feels an impulse to pull the homeschool version of Kanye West taking the mic from Taylor Swift to talk about Beyoncé and how it really is or should have been: Don’t do it. It is an understandable impulse, but acting upon it is bad form.
Meantime, I can definitively say that we are not a movement of atheists, or advocates of liberal sexual ethics, or united by our hatred of the denim jumper and the large family van, or easily pinpointed by our childhood fandom of Christian bible stories as told by talking animated cucumbers. We are not even former homeschool debate champions out to make a difference in unexpected ways. We are a movement that has people who are all of the above and none of the above and much more and many other things, all at the same time. It’s a pretty big and diverse group.
Well… actually, if you want to get down to it, the core of the homeschool reform movement so far has been mostly young white women with some form of higher education who like to blog and read blogs – but fact is we are inclusive, we are growing, there are more guys and homeschool parents and friends of ours joining every day, and even within the QFSOS group, a bunch of homeschooled white girls, there is a lot of diversity. I haven’t met one “average” person in the bunch. We are all individuals, as unique as our own thumbprints, but joined together because the homeschooling movement has had an impact, left a mark on all of us, and that is why we feel pulled to be here, talking about it today.
I figure fellow advocates of mine are absolutely right to be having discussions about legitimacy and how not to be pigeonholed or appropriated, and are correct to be careful about who is allowed to speak for us and with us and who should take some additional time to listen and learn before declaring themselves an ally. Maybe there are some people who we will need to ask to just shut up altogether, but meantime I have a confession to make: Sometimes I still wonder if I should shut up. In fact, it is when I am being visibly heard (like right now) that I often wonder that the most.
I am pretty wary of telling others that they need to be quiet because I don’t want to be told to be quiet. I still believe in the golden rule. I also don’t want to stifle debate. I love debate. I love hearing people’s stories and discovering what they hope and fear and what they find beautiful and what work brings them meaning. However, recognizing power dynamics and unexamined privilege – the things we typically take for granted – are key to establishing what is the most respectful and healing course of action in this situation, and I figure we will need to spend a bit more time on that in the coming days.
Those of us who are publicly telling our stories are giving up our privacy and anonymity in hopes of improving things for others. We are using the time and skills we have. It might look like fun (and indeed I have never done more deeply meaningful work in my life), but there is opportunity cost, no doubt about it. I could be doing a lot of other things with my life, but here I am, using the resources I have, and part of that currency is my personal story. So while it might seem easy for me and like I like to share, fact is I chose to do this for a particular reason and it isn’t always easy. I am making a gamble here that the benefits of speaking out outweigh the risks, but it doesn’t mean I am ignorant of the risks or that it doesn’t get in the way of other things I want to do, other ways I might want to live and be.
Sometimes I feel like I have become the queen of oversharing. Any future employer will be able to google me and learn I was diagnosed with PTSD. Family friends can read my blog and interviews and piece together stories that my siblings may not be interested in divulging to them. There are real life impacts. I listen to the “The Dog Days Are Over” by Florence & the Machine and it somehow captures how I feel so well – a story of giving up something you have in order to realize a dream, letting go of the bird in the hand and holding out crumbs for the two in the bush.
The day after the “Homeschool Apostates” piece came out online I had a second date with a guy who said he had read it and some of my blog, said he was impressed and also that he felt like he’d gotten to know me pretty well already through my writing. But having people feel like they know you when you don’t know them all that well is such a vulnerable thing. I then spent some time asking him a bunch of personal questions, so we could be even. I know him a bit better now, but we are still not even. I am still more exposed. I am still trying to get used to having what used to be my deepest secrets out there for everyone to see.
Also, while readers of the “Homeschool Apostates” story probably just accepted at face value the one-sentence story about me being a sheltered homeschool girl who thought that oral sex was another name for French kissing, it felt different on my end. I got to temporarily relive all the semi-forgotten blow job jokes that were lobbed in my direction, initially over my head, back in 9th grade during my tumultuous transition to public school.
When high school classmates had discovered I didn’t know what oral sex was and I had then blushed when it was explained to me, people thought it was funny. It could have been cute, innocent, but it wasn’t. It left me at a disadvantage. Back then I thought it was somehow my fault that the jokes at my expense continued after I had learned the facts, but it got so bad that I had several high school boys outright proposition me, ask me if I would like to “practice” doing that for them. It was highly offensive to hear these things, but fact is they were in a relative position of power compared to me and were at the same time wholly unaware of it. My dysfunctional upbringing had left me vulnerable, alone, and without the social capital or skills to do much of anything about the situation. I was so unpopular, so socially marginalized (picked last in gym, enduring balls of paper thrown at my head in class), that these boys correctly surmised that the odds of me getting mad about it and them then getting in trouble for their comments were lower than the long odds of me saying yes. So they took the risk and asked away. This isn’t just about homeschooling. Being a teenage girl is inherently a vulnerable time and I know too many other girls got the same treatment from boys in public school, but fact is that my homeschooling experience did nothing to protect me from such bullying or harassment. It painted a bulls eye on me instead.
The “Homeschool Apostates” piece has just one sentence on this experience of mine, but I have my memories of quietly saying no, flashing a dirty look, my face beet red, and switching seats to avoid what to these boys probably seemed like good fun and to me awful bullying that left me ashamed and humiliated. I’m pretty sure that if those boys had taken even a moment and thought about it, realized what they were doing with their privilege and power, that they in fact had privilege and power (it is an invisible thing to people who have it, most of the time), most of them would have been horrified and deeply ashamed at what they were doing, but they didn’t think too deeply about the impact of their actions. Fact is they didn’t have to. They could think it was a joke. Power dynamics in this situation were theirs to ignore, but I couldn’t ignore them.
So I just want to note that the general rule of thumb is if the unintended consequences of your behavior are most likely inconsequential to you but not to others, that is a sign that it isyou who have the power and privilege.
I soon came to understand these power dynamics and took them very seriously, carefully building my social standing, my academics, my world knowledge, and my understanding of how people tick, largely through trial and error, tenacity, and more than a little luck. I didn’t go walking this steep learning curve in hopes to someday help lead a homeschool reform movement (indeed at that time I loathed the very word “homeschooling,” figuring it had forced this grueling game of sink or swim catch-up upon me) but rather because I hoped that it would insulate me from having to endure the sort of ostracism and embarrassment I lived with on a daily basis for most of my formative years.
I tell this story to illustrate how when people like Chris Jeub (and I am not singling him out here, just using him as an example) write about the homeschool movement, talk about the aspects they are familiar with and take joy in, such as homeschool debate, they don’t immediately see the depths of the shame or hurt or loneliness, or what I and others had to do and go through to claw our way out, so their writing can come off as tone deaf, cavalier or dismissive or reductive to us, even though they don’t mean for it to.
I suppose it is easy to get angry, figure that they should get a clue, and I felt like that for a while, when I first started working on this issue. Since then I have realized that lived experience is a funny thing and what us homeschool kids faced as guinea pigs in this social experiment is filled with unknown unknowns to people on the outside, including homeschooling parents, who, despite what they think, are on the outside when it comes to this experience too. To add to that, people like me also get pretty good at hiding the weirder stuff, since it is generally a necessity in order to succeed in the outside world.
Today I play respectability politics. I look put together and well-adjusted, maybe even better-adjusted than your average girl on the street, since I dress well and use big words and have polite southern manners, and I suppose they just see me standing here, a capable writer, an educated person, a pretty smiling face with a good haircut, and assume we are on the same racetrack. They get confused when I seem tired or like I’m struggling because they don’t see the miles I have had to run just to be here or the ones I still have left to run to get where I want to be. They don’t know that I still deal with insomnia or that I am currently worrying about paying the rent.
So when my friend Sarah Jones talks about power dynamics and uses strong words to say people like Chris Jeub need to hush it and listen for a change, in her blog post “This Is Not A Discussion,” I don’t think she is meaning to snap at people or stifle debate, or insult Chris Jeub, but is rather saying that maybe if you knew how hard it was for so many of us, how hard it still is, despite how put-together we can sometimes be, that maybe you would be less cavalier, less quippy, less prone to make generalizations and false equivalencies of the positive and negative experiences, more likely to temper fascination with the Homeschoolers Anonymous project existing with some sorrow that it needs to exist in the first place. I think that Sarah is saying that you can’t properly explain without knowing, and in order to know, you have to listen, and that in order to listen you have to first decide that there is a story worth hearing and that the mic for describing this stuff doesn’t belong to you.
For so long our stories were dissuaded or outright suppressed, seen as not worth hearing, but that is changing now. We have built a counter-narrative, and although there is strength in numbers, there is strength in other things too (like money and political power, for instance). We are right to be careful about not having our message co-opted by people who haven’t been down in the trenches with us and many who don’t intend to go there.
If there are people telling you that you are not listening enough, that you did not get it right, then that is a sign that you probably need to do a double take, maybe try something else. At the same time, it is ok to have it be haphazard as you try to get the hang of it. That is the definition of a safe space. Fact is, Chris Jeub needs a safe space in which to try too. He doesn’t want to be told to shut up. Nobody does. None of us like that. I also think the conversation Chris Jeub and I had showed that he is open to doing more listening, more learning, more brainstorming, and I for one appreciate that. He is trying and he cares and I think it is refreshing to see. This is a learning curve for all of us, and for what it’s worth, he wrote a blog post about our conversation and bridging gaps. Because some people like separatism and don’t want to bridge gaps, he has since been having some Quiverfull/Christian patriarchy people be mean to him (what I would describe as passive-aggressive and spiritually abusive) in the comments section on that post, so he is currently catching it from both sides and I think we should be cognizant of that too and cut the man a little slack.
Also, the thing about learning and dialogue is it always goes both ways, so those of us acting like experts (yes, all of us) would do well to remember that. Fact is if I hadn’t had the conversation I did with Chris Jeub I wouldn’t have fleshed out my thoughts on why exactly I think love does not conquer all. But since he and I talked, I did, and I read this myth busting sheet that touches on abuse not being about a lack of love, and this short article about it, which I am now sharing, hoping to foster further dialogue and contribute to more airtight frameworks and best practices.
Things have been bad for many of us, left us “walking wounded,” but I can say that the more I work on this issue the more I really don’t give a damn about the culture wars, or how homeschooling does or doesn’t stack up to the messes of the public schools, or what side of anything I am supposed to be aligning myself with or fighting on. I don’t want to fight. It is not what is important. I don’t want to malign anybody to build anyone else up. I reject that narrative. It is a stupid competition, a race to the bottom, a lose/lose battle, so let’s stop and instead try to all do our part to recognize what is going on here, clean up, and pledge to not waste this perfectly good disaster. Otherwise we may just fix this problem and find we created another monster from our knee-jerk reactions, our triggers, our worries, our overactive threat assessment systems, just like our parents did. Fear is a scary thing.
So what I want is not for anyone to censor their opinions or opt out of the conversation, or keep their personal angle or the lens they see it through to themselves. It’s ok to sometimes use the wrong word. It’s ok to sometimes have an idea that you realize is from the old script rather than the new one. Let’s just be mindful that it takes a lot of work and sacrifice to bring an issue like this to the table and when it is all laid out it is generally pretty overwhelming to sit down at the table and stare at this mess, whether it hurt you badly in your formative years or you come to realize that you accidentally bought into and helped build something that hurt kids.
Human relationships count for so much. Equality and respect and listening and sharing matters. We are at a delicate time and a special time – a groundbreaking time, as fraught as Thanksgiving dinner with the extended family, as cool as new friendships (because there are many new friendships), and as important as surgery (because let’s face it, we are gathered here to remove a malignant tumor). So here’s to fostering respectful dialogue and greater understanding that I hope will lead to improvement of homeschooling communities and through that, improvement of lives. We can do it. We have already come so far, so let’s keep the conversation flowing, y’all, and try to be patient with one another.
If it makes you feel better, I thought oral sex was french kissing too. ah man. Also, yeah, I though of that. Your name is unusual enough that it would come up in google searches. I don’t use my last name with my blog, so it’s way better. But I’ve had friends who have found my blog, and it’s been kind of weird. I don’t normally talk about this kind of stuff.
And I NEVER thought you were creating an atheist advocacy club or anything remotely similar.
Incidently when I wrote that post, I really was not talking about Chris Jeub. Everyone has taken it to be such. My main point is I don’t think patriarchy will be taken down without talking to homeschool parents. I would also agree that we have to use wisdom. LIke all things in life, there is a ime to speak, a time to dialogue, a time to shout, and a time to remain quiet.
Me too on the French kissing/oral sex confusion, I was about 17 or so when I found out the difference due to some church youth group friends……
Thank you for saying all of this.
And french kissing… yeah.
See, I don’t trust Chris Jeub. At all. Not one little bit. I don’t trust his friends. I don’t want to work with them because I don’t think they’re really serious about doing the work necessary to become real allies to survivors of Christian patriarchy. They have to prove it by their actions–allyship is a status you earn, not one you’re granted because you sound a bit less terrible than most of your peers.
Yes, it’s time for Jeub to shut up. It’s time for the white men who ran this movement to sit down and stop talking. Past time, actually. They’ve been too privileged for too long; there’s no way their voices won’t be prioritized over ours. You can see that in Patrick McKay’s comments on my blog, telling me that yes, actually, Jeub is the better spokesperson for the movement, and I should downplay my ‘apostasy.’
These aren’t safe people and I don’t even think they’re good people.
You know, I don’t trust a lot of people. I also don’t call someone an ally unless they’ve really been there, proven themselves. I also didn’t call Chris Jeub an ally. I said that I was open to dialogue with him and had learned stuff from our conversation.
What I like most about Chris Jeub is that he is curious and he is open to conversation and he has tried to be respectful. That is different from a lot of the people in the world we came from. It doesn’t mean I agree with him on lots of stuff, but disagreeing with someone doesn’t mean I think they’re a bad person either. There is a difference. Idk, I just think that we have to be careful not to perpetuate the rigidity and rejection from the other side. I’m not saying you are, but I figure we need to be cognizant of that and err on the side of caution. Anything that looks like an ideological purity litmus test makes me uncomfortable.
What Patrick McKay told you was definitely wrong and it’s not his place, but that doesn’t mean we should be telling people to shut up. I guess I think about what kind of tone we want to set and that doesn’t fall in the realm of what I’m comfortable with.
Also, just for the record, I respect your opinion and I’d never dream of telling you that you had to talk to people you don’t want to, or accept that I should follow in anyone else’s footsteps. I figure it’s totally ok for me and you to have and be comfortable with different levels of dialogue and interaction with people outside of our advocacy network.
I agree with this completely, and I think there can be hope for people like Chris Jeub, I mean after all, Julie Anne Smith left the movement, right?
If we can get more homeschool parents to leave, they could be great allies for us, simply because fundamentalist parents have indoctrinated into not listening to younger generations, and parents who have left can reach them in ways that we can’t. Many more families could be save from this whole mess, it’s a worthwhile goal.
I appreciate what you said about people don’t see the effort it takes to keep going, to blend in with everyone else. That effect is doubled for an autistic like me, not only trying to catch up with all the popular culture I missed, but trying to learn to read all the hidden context in what people are saying, all while dealing with the pain and fatigue that my depression brings me (medication helps a lot but doesn’t kill it completely).
The flashbacks too are awful at times, I can’t hear a child talk back to their parents, or parents get mad at their children without flinching, and cringing inside, because it brings back so many bad memories.
This whole thing isn’t really about homeschooling at all. It’s about religion and being raised in a conservative religious community. You may as well have been Amish and attending a private Amish one-room school (yes, that’s how the Amish educate their kids). You may as well have been raised in a conservative Catholic family and educated in a convent school. You may as well have been Islamic, or LDS, or any other religion with conservative views on how women are to be treated and educated. I’m offended, as a homeschooler, by your misuse of homeschooling to create a sensation in the media. Guess what? Not all homeschoolers are religious conservatives. Quit trying to reform homeschooling. Homeschooling isn’t the real issue. Conservative religious groups who deliberately create a separation from mainstream society are the issue. Quit waving the homeschooler flag and crying that homeschool screwed you up. It did not. Your family’s religious views did.
I don’t think you are in a position to tell me what is about homeschooling and what isn’t. You are obviously freaking out and scared. What are you scared of? It might be a good question to ask yourself. As it is, coming on my blog and yelling at me, saying rude and unfeeling things, doesn’t solve anything or change reality. You sound like you have some issues to deal with and those issues aren’t my advocacy work but something much closer to home.
I’ve been reading your blog and thinking about this very issue, and it’s clearly tremendously complicated. Homeschooling plays a prominent role in the Christian patriarchy movement in the US, and its oppression of women (and men, in a different way) could not be achieved to the same extent without it.
Even a specific type of religious out-of-the-home school could not achieve the same effect. Caring for numerous younger siblings and slaving away in the home seems to be too important an aspect of girls’ upbringing within this movement for this to be only about academic education. This movement depends specifically on homeschooling, not merely on education that keeps one away from the rest of the world.
Having said that, I can understand why homeschool parents who are not from within the said movement believe this to be about something other than homeschooling.
I am Jewish. It bothers me when certain extreme Jewish sects appear in the news, and people reading about them think only about those when they hear the word “Judaism”.
In the same way, it bothers me when people hear “homeschooling” and think only of homeschooling in the context of the American Christian patriarchy movement. We can probably agree that homeschooling can be about academic success, or personal freedom (for the child!), or about many other things that have nothing to do with religion or keeping kids away from the real world.
Yes, homeschooling can be an essential tool of religious and personal oppression, and this is something society needs to address. But it can also be something perfectly normal, and I think it is, at the very least, understandable if homeschooling families feel upset about being lumped into the same category with those who have oppressive, sexist agendas.
I was unschooled in the 1980s/1990s. My parents are politically and religiously liberal. Since discovering religious homeschool bloggers, I’ve been consistently shocked by how much we have in common.
It IS about homeschooling – specifically, forms of homeschooling that fail to give children the knowledge and skills they need to navigate the world as adults. These don’t make up the entirety of homeschooling, but they are still homeschooling. They are not the exclusive province of conservative religion, and many, many people grow up in conservative religions – including abusive fundamentalist ones – for whom adequate public/private education provided the social and educational capital necessary to transition to adult life with relatively normal, rather than excessive, amounts of pain, shame, and stress.
I am grateful to Heather and to other bloggers who have been bringing homeschooling issues into public awareness. It is healing to have people dealing with some of the same fallout standing up and saying “Hey, this happened, it *really did* happen, and that’s important; we need to acknowledge it and respond to it”.
@Judith I figured we would start getting “Not All Homeschoolers Are Like That” comments. Why so defensive? Why are you assuming that we are indicting the entire movement?
Yes, you are right that fundamentalism is at the root of the problem, but homeschooling was the tool used to further isolate us, indoctrinate us, and even to cover up abuse.
As someone in the homeschooling movement, if you care about it’s reputation so much, then you should be the 1st person in line to fight fundamentalsm, and calling for more legal regulations, instead of taking out your anger out on us.
Otherwise, you remind me too much of the people who care more about the reputation of their church/denomination than protecting sexual abuse victims.
Well, first and foremost, I want to say that I am so sorry for your pain and all that you have gone through. Secondly, I am a homeschooling mom with two grown children and I have really taken the posts that I have read to heart. I applaud your courage to be willing to share your stories. I started blogging about my life many years ago and it has been a cathartic experience that has led to amazing opportunities for me. I too, have PTSD and it came from coming from such a toxic fundamental church, and I still deal with the stress and anxiety that comes from feeling judge, especially since I moved to the NYC area to finish my degree.
I am still pro-choice when it comes to education, which hasn’t always gone over well with my homeschool friends or my public school friends and I agree, the competition between the choices only causes more division. I do say that I lean more towards homeschooling though, but that comes from my own experience being in over 20 public schools. When I read what you went through in high school, my heart broke for you, for I remember all the bullying I went through. I am sorry you had those experiences.
I think it is imperative for those who have been silenced be able to speak and if you all can provide a safe place for that, then that alone is worth it.
As a sociology major, I believe in the power discourse, it brings about change. I also know that the stigma that comes from homeschooling. Anything that goes against society lives by these stigma rules that are reinforced by society. I think you all have slightly touched on this, but when the data is collected, sociology comes in handy.
There were many things that I did not think were right in the homeschooling movement. I was NEVER meek enough and I think that marked my kids, too. Well, I did confront people or issues at times and normally it didn’t end well. People don’t like to see problems when they feel like they have keep up with appearances. And there is reason for that- I remember fighting to keep the laws the way they were in Colorado and some old lady came up to my daughter while we were at the Capitol and quizzed her! I wanted to keep the laws that we had. Many homeschoolers remember having to testify or work to get the laws passed. That being said, homeschooling should never cover up abuse that is for sure.
I am not sure how much my opinion matters, I only have two kids, but we did homeschool all the way through high school and both of my kids sat under Chris Jeub. In fact Chris Jeub was instrumental in helping us when our son became gravely ill in FL while at a debate camp in 2010. Our family feels very indebted to his generosity in our time of need. But even if that hadn’t have happened, I think Chris is a great guy, who is open to listening. I just wish there were more leaders who would be that open to listening to your generation. BTW, he didn’t know I would post a comment- but it is through his link on FB that I have come to know you.
I think more people are starting to realize that things can be tweaked since the first generation of homeschoolers. I believe that stigma has had the power to keep homeschooling families from growing or for reaching out for help when they need it. I am NOT a fan of Vision Forum or any of that-unfortunately fundamentalism in its ugliest form has grown under the protection of homeschooling and many things that were propagated were very harmful to many families that I know.
Keep writing! Don’t let those who disagree stop you- we will all learn from what you all have to say.
Ten years ago now I did many desperate internet searches for ‘survivor stories’ from people that had been homeschooled. I found nothing except support groups for parents that were doing the home schooling. I gave up,convinced that I alone had a negative experience.Clearly I was the only homeschool failure. All that to say I can understand why the children of the movement would feel the parents have had their say. We have heard them and their reasoning our whole lives.
We know their methods and default arguments.We know the blame for our pain and struggles will first be thrust on us,and if further explaining gets through to them,they will happily throw our parents under the bus. Not their faulty doctrine,not harmful methods. Those are all good and right. Your individual parents merely implemented them wrongly. Do not touch our methods!!
Not sure I had a point in all this,so I will end with, I am thankful for all of you that have had the strength and been brave enough to speak out,when you had every reason to believe you were alone.
Great post and the article was ….I do not know what to say except that I loved hearing this voice.
I am american and just moved back to USA from Sweden where home schooling became illegal in 2012 because in their rights of the child over parental rights/ not religious public life/ gender equal society they outlawed home schooling totally for fear abuses. I watched a friend leave the country because she could not home school. It was frustrating to have this sterotype- based on a reality represented here- , drive policy. The free and good home schoolers can not home school there. I look forward to seeing where this conversation goes! It may help the Swedes come to a middle ground, or be used as proof against ever allowing home schooling,.Who knows…Thanks for using your life energy for this.
It is a voice that has not been heard, and should be.
This is the Swedish political view of home schooling:
Attachment parenting advocate Jonas Himmelstrand leads the pro homeschool voice there: