I grew up in the conservative Christian homeschool subculture of Michael Farris, Doug Phillips, Michael Pearl, and Doug Wilson. In college I left my upbringing behind and struck out on my own, embracing progressive political positions and eventually leaving religion entirely. This left me in an odd spot—I no longer fit in with the homeschoolers I’d grown up with, but my background wasn’t something the young progressives I hung out with could really understand. I felt very, very alone, and thought I was the only one to have walked this path. And then I met Natalie, who came from the same background and had walked the same path. I can’t emphasize enough how much this meant to me. I no longer felt alone, because I finally knew I wasn’t alone.
When I first started blogging almost two years ago, I was quickly overwhelmed by the number of emails and comments I received from other homeschool graduates, thanking me for putting a voice to their experiences and showing them that they were not alone. The online community that I and other bloggers with similar backgrounds created little by little has been amazing in giving us bloggers a sense of community—but it has also played a role in letting other homeschool graduates who have shared some or all of our experiences know that it’s not just them, and in helping them find healing.
With that background, I have to say that I’m really excited about a new website, Homeschoolers Anonymous, founded by homeschool graduate R. L. Stollar. (I was first introduced to Stollar’s work through this insightful blog post.) Here is what Homeschoolers Anonymous’ about page has to say:
Homeschoolers Anonymous is a cooperative project by former homeschoolers. We are an inclusive community interested in sharing our experiences growing up in the conservative,Christian homeschooling subculture. From the Quiverfull movement to the betrothal/courtship mentality to Generation Joshua and the dominionist attitudes of HSLDA, we are survivors. And we are standing together to make our voices heard. We want the world to hear our stories and we want to give hope to those who are still immersed in that world. There is a way to break free and be yourself.
We do not advocate any one particular path — some of us are religious, some are not; some of us are politically liberal, others are conservative; some of us might homeschool our children in the future, others want nothing to do with homeschooling anymore. We are not interested in championing any particular doctrine.
We are not standing against homeschooling as an educational method. But we are standing up for those who have been hurt by certain oppressive groups and ways of thinking within homeschooling. Above all, we want to provide healing to other survivors, hope for those still suffering, and knowledge to those unaware of the inner workings of homeschooling.
The mission of Homeschoolers Anonymous is:
1. To bring awareness to the suffering many children experience through aspects of certain homeschooling subcultures
2. To educate the public about the inner workings and politics of the homeschooling world
3. To provide a voice against some of the extreme positions from within homeschooling ideology
4. To inspire others to speak up about abuse and control
5. To give hope to those who currently suffer from abuse and control
6. To bring healing to those who have escaped an abusive or controlling home environment and provide new survivors with resources for developing independence
7. To create a community of shared experiences
For more, read this press release from Homeschoolers Anonymous.
Now head on over Homeschoolers Anonymous and read some of the many stories already posted there! Michael Farris’ nephew has offered his thoughts, and Ryan’s story will be especially welcome to all of those who have been noting the female nature of ex-quiverfull blogging and asking where the young men are. If you want to submit your own story, Stollar is still accepting submissions.
If you also grew up in the conservative Christian subculture fraught with ideas like quiverfull, courtship, and the Joshua generation, and then questioned and left, know that it’s not just you. Our stories, together, are powerful. Laugh with us, cry with us, and heal with us—but most of all, know that you are not alone.