Happy Third Anniversary, Homeschoolers Anonymous!

three balloon

This March, Homeschoolers Anonymous turned three. I found the site several weeks after the launch, on April 12, 2013.

I still remember it, because I was in a meeting for the student newspaper on campus and one of my fellow editors, Cynthia Jeub, had IMed me the link earlier that morning. During the meeting, I was browsing the Spiritual Abuse Survivors Blog Network page on No Longer Quivering and Homeschoolers Anonymous was on that list, too.

I read as many stories as I could, for hours. Pieces of memory drifted together as parts of other experiences resonated with my own. You’re not crazy. And you’re not alone. 

Back in early 2012, my friend Anna G. sent me links to Recovering Grace and told me about the sexual abuse allegations against Bill Gothard, just before I moved out. We were both shocked, because we knew that our parents respected his ideas. He was a household name.

When I found Homeschoolers Anonymous, I’d been moved out on my own for six months.

A few weeks before, I’d been upset by a short story we read in my American Literature class, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. Our class discussion gave me vivid flashbacks of my parents lashing out in anger. I started asking all my friends who were spanked how their parents did it, because I was trying to figure out what was “normal” and what wasn’t. My friend Linny started sending me links from Permission to Live and Love, Joy, Feminism about gentle parenting and how other homeschool alums view spanking now that they’ve become parents.

When I first moved out, there weren’t resources for people like me. I didn’t know how to explain what I was experiencing and what my past was like to friends, classmates, and professors.

Now organizations like Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (HARO) and the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE) are changing the dialogue.

I was googling Gothard’s Wisdom Booklets (IBLP’s homeschool curriculum) the other day, and I found this article in the Denver Post from December 2007. The reporter explains how Matthew Murray, the gunman at the New Life Church shooting, had been homeschooled with Wisdom Booklets and his family was associated with Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC).

A homeschool kid killed two other homeschool kids.

(One of the surviving sisters, Laurie Works, wrote a poem to Matthew. And you should totally read her perspective on the events that day here, too.)

The only homeschool official interviewed for the article was Kevin Swanson, the executive director of CHEC. The same guy who says that child abuse is a harsh reality of living in a sinful world and we should just forgive and forget, defends child marriage, and says that homeschool alumni with concerns and criticism are just Benedict Arnolds who were too lazy to get a good education.

Today, Homeschoolers Anonymous, HARO, and CRHE have been interviewed by the press numerous times on a variety of homeschool-related issues.

It’s not an echo chamber anymore. And when something gut-wrenching happens in our community, there are more voices now, offering solidarity and resolve to change the system.

This is why last year, when someone said Homeschoolers Anonymous only posts negative stories, I responded:

Homeschoolers Anonymous comments

So, happy birthday, Homeschoolers Anonymous. Here’s to many more.
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