I just wanted to drop a note because HSD and HA are two things really close to my heart. I'm 25 now, but I spent most of my time ages 13-18 on HSD. I owned the site for a few years (17-20, I think) and modded throughout. Most of my friends from high school are from HSD - I consider them the closest thing to a "graduating class" of high school peers. Ryan Stollar and I sort of knew each other from the HSD circles (sharing tons of mutual friends) and it was my interaction with my HSD friends that inspired Homeschoolers Anonymous
. My thoughts about my own past experiences developed and were clarified by my conversations with my peers. These thoughts have been percolating in so many homeschoolers' minds, that many of us literally had our stories and arguments written and ready to go - lacking only a platform from which to broadcast our message. Homeschoolers Anonymous became that platform and those stories are of my friends and my new homeschooled friends.
From my perspective now, I can see that religious fundamentalism permeated homeschooling culture. It masqueraded in many different forms - Little Bear Wheeler, David Barton, Michael Farris, HSLDA, and Doug Phillips - and some of the most radical voices are also the leadership of the Christian homeschooling movement. Christian homeschoolers make up about 50-80% of the 1.5 million homeschoolers nationally, so we're talking about a problem that has a significant scope (even for national American culture). This is not an issue of a "sub-culture within a sub-culture," rather a fringe sub-culture (Christian fundamentalism and patriarchy) that co-opted a mainstream trend (homeschooling). The co-option of the home education movement, which began in the 1970s, was a united front of secular humanists, Seventh Day Adventists, and Evangelicals. In the late-1980s, Farris, Greg Harris, and his ilk began a subtle take over of the movement (ideologically and financially). If you want more information on this, I highly recommend the two best academic works on homeschooling: Mitchel Steven's Kingdom of Children
and Milton Gaither's Homeschool: An American History.
The most offensive event we have uncovered is a 2009 Leadership Summit
, which lays out a literal manifesto for Christian homeschooling - a meeting led and organized by men who speak at 3-5 state-wide homeschooling conventions (and two of the largest ones they keynote: CHEA in CA and FPEA in FL),
The most difficult thing about all this is that people react in a few different ways: they deny this is a problem, they say it's only a fringe problem, or they say that I'm just personally bitter. As all of you probably know, it's not fun or easy to share the message we are sharing. My family doesn't really speak to me anymore, and my parents have yet to acknowledge the site's existence. To many of my former friends, I am now the "enemy" because I had the audacity to link homeschooling with child abuse.
It's not absurd to link homeschooling to child abuse and I'll explain why. First, we have to know what I mean by "homeschooling." Homeschooling is a legal status, a pedagogy, and a worldview. It is a legal status and, as a home educator, parents have a relationship with the state. It is a pedagogy (and there are many different versions) because it's a very different way to teach a child. I fully support the pedagogy
of homeschooling. Homeschooling is a worldview to almost everyone who is involved in it. They take criticism of homeschooling, its dominant narratives, and the culture as a personal attack. To Doug Phillips, Keven Swanson, Michael Farris, Voddie Bauchum and Chris Klicka (and many others), homeschoolers are an object in the culture war. The QuiverFull ideology literally says that children are arrows "in the quiver of a mighty man" and that mighty man is supposed to fight for a Christian America (based on a lie about our history). The patriarchy is heavy in the homeschooling culture as well. It's organized and carried out by women, but the men are the leaders, God's ordained providers.
My conversations in the last few months have identified some troubling themes from our collective experience in the NCFCA. (caveat: I am five years removed from the league, but I’m sure some of these attitudes are still prevalent in some regions.) It seems that, as a whole, men were given a sense of entitlement and women were held to an impossible standard of “Godly modesty” and submission. The arbiter of all competitive rounds in the NCFCA is the judge (or judges), who are trained and informed by the NCFCA prior to their judging. A mix of community volunteers, competitors’ parents, and alumni judge the events. Often, sexist ideas about gender influenced a judge’s decision and they commented on ballots about girls’ appearance of modesty. These sort of critiques of personal hygiene and “modesty” were encouraged usually before every tournament, if not every competition day, by tournament representatives.
Ultimately, the standards of modesty promoted a rape culture (which is not to say that they promoted rape), where women would be “at fault” for dressing immodestly if they turned a man on. The purity culture’s inversion of guilt can be detrimental to some young women. Fundamentally, a binary is constructed where the “good girls” wear modest clothes, don’t lead boys on, and get happily married at a young age, whereas girls who dress in pant suits or develop friendships with male competitors are “slutty” and will not be “desirable for marriage.” In a culture that extols “godly motherhood” as the life purpose of females, not being desirable for marriage is an affront to a person’s intrinsic worth. Recently, Elizabeth Smart discussed how the purity culture influenced her negatively to feel worthless like “an old piece of gum” during her captivity.
All that is to say, I'm here to answers any questions you might have about Homeschoolers Anonymous and to provide you with any information you may seek.
You think you're radical
But you're not so radical
In fact, you're fanatical