What is the relationship between Homeschoolers Anonymous (HA) and Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (HARO)?

As a part of HARO, HA’s mission is to improve homeschooling for future generations through awareness and education, peer-support networks, and resource development. HA specifically implements the awareness and education aspect of HARO’s mission. The HARO board believes that knowledge is power. To that end we publish personal stories and testimonies about homeschooling experiences, historical and sociological studies of the modern homeschooling movement, and analyses of the ideologies and leaders that have shaped homeschooling in the U.S.

What is the relationship between HARO and the individual stories on HA?

The views and opinions expressed by HA’s individual contributors do not necessarily reflect those of HA as a platform or HARO as an organization.

Is HA named after Alcoholics Anonymous?

No, HA is not named after Alcoholics Anonymous.

Homeschoolers have joked about, and made loving references to, making their own Homeschoolers Anonymouses for a long time. For example, back when Christian homeschool debaters were on Xanga, there was a Xanga group called Homeschoolers Anonymous. Similarly, in 2009, homeschooling parents referred to themselves as Homeschoolers Anonymous in the context of an online forum support group. Probably the most prominent cultural reference of Homeschoolers Anonymous comes from Harvard University itself.

HA is a homeschool geek culture reference to this tradition of forming Homeschoolers Anonymouses.

Why doesn’t HA specify “Christian” in its name?

The issues HA highlights are no more or no less the fault of “homeschooling” than they are the fault of “Christian homeschooling” (or “fundamentalist Christian homeschooling”). This is seen in our coverage of moderate Christian homeschooling, non-religious homeschooling, and homeschooling within religions other than Christianity. There is no perfect title to represent the project that HA encompasses.

Is HARO anti-homeschooling?

No. The HARO board does not stand against homeschooling as an educational method. We believe that homeschooling is a powerful, useful tool. It represents a democratic approach to educational progress, innovation, and creativity. It allows a child’s learning environment to be tailored to individual and personal needs. When homeschooling is done responsibly, it can be amazing. What we oppose is irresponsible homeschooling, where the educational method is used to create or hide abuse, isolation, and neglect.

Does HARO have any particular religious or political agenda?

No. While the majority of HARO’s board members are outspoken Christians, the board is committed to intersectionality and ecumenicity in its advocacy. We are not interested in championing any particular doctrine other than the well-being of homeschool students and graduates.

What is HARO’s position on homeschool oversight (i.e., government regulation of homeschooling)?

HARO does not advocate for or against public policy. HARO advocates for awareness and education, peer support, and resource development from within homeschooling.

What is the relationship between HARO and CRHE?

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE) is an entirely distinct organization from HARO. While CRHE and HARO have one board member in common, CRHE takes positions on policy measures whereas HARO and HA do not. CRHE and HARO also have very different missions.

Where is HARO at in the incorporation process?

HARO is a federally recognized 501c3 non-profit organization. Donors can deduct contributions made to us under IRC Section 170. We are also qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers, or gifts under Section 2055, 2106, or 2522.

Who staffs HARO?

HA and HARO are both run entirely by volunteers, who have collectively volunteered thousands of hours since last March: HA’s staff | HARO’s board members | HARO’s advisory council.

Is there any evidence for how common child abuse, mental illness, or self-injury is among homeschool families?

Due to the absence of required registration or notification of homeschoolers, there are frankly no reliable statistics on homeschooling families in general. However, the stories that have been told on Homeschoolers Anonymous indicate that many people have experienced abuse within homeschooling. HARO wants every homeschooled student to have an excellent and, most importantly, safe homeschooling experience. So the fact that these things occur in our community at all is something we think everyone invested in the future of homeschooling should be concerned about.

Isn’t HARO’s position on LGBT* students and alumni anti-Christian?

Our LGBT* friends and peers have been hurt by a system that consistently marginalizes, ignores, or abuses them. HARO unequivocally supports these individuals. Given that Jesus consistently identified with and demonstrated compassion towards the marginalized, ignored, and abused, we believe our principles are consistent with Christian values.

Would HARO’s board members ever think about homeschooling their (future) children?

If and when we have children, we would all put our children’s wellbeing first and foremost and equally consider homeschooling, private schooling, or public schooling (or even a combination thereof) to see what best suits each individual child.

Can sharing individual stories make a difference?

Yes. Feedback from both homeschooling parents and homeschooled alumni indicate that sharing individuals can have, and has had, a profound impact.

Feedback from parents include:

1. “I just want to say thanks for what you do. Even though I am a conservative Christian who homeschools his children, I very much oppose many of the movements that are closely associated with homeschooling (Quiverfull, Christian Reconstructionism, Vision Forum, etc. etc.). Reading the stories you feature help me to keep guard about mistakes I may be making while I homeschool my kids, and help keep me open to new ideas.“

2. “I really am so proud of all you are doing: your sense of responsibility to make the world a better place for future children. You don’t have to advocate for children, you could just be happy you’re out and mind your own business. …I am really really glad you exist and that you are who you are. That means alot to me.”

3. “I have really enjoyed your posts on home schooling. You give a forum for those who have been hurt in the movement. There is no universally good school method, and a lot of who homeschooled in the beginning were sold a bill of goods. Parents did what they thought was right, but in many, many families, including ours, what we thought was right was very far from it. At any rate, I appreciate your posts; they evoke conversations with the kids.”

4. “I have been telling this message to homeschool parents for years… The physical abuse…spiritual abuse…sexual abuse…the early teachings of the homeschool movement that are still out there today…wow, such damage has been done…trusting in the Redeemer to help us get the word out.”

5. “I love your site. I have been reading the stories and it helps me feel not so alone. I am sure you hear that a lot. I was not homeschooled. I was [a] homeschooling mother… Thank you for what you do. It is so important and so few people even think about the negative consequences of abusive homeschooling.”

6. “Thanks for the honest explanation of a courtship gone wrong. It makes me rethink things that I will say to my girls.“

7. “I have been reading the stories posted on your site for the last couple of days, just absorbing the various experiences you all have had. I’m the mother of a homeschooled daughter… Best wishes with the site.”

8. “I am in relationship with a lot of homeschooling mothers and a lot of ‘homeschooling is the only option for good parents’ ideology. I would like to dialogue and find ways to assist people in educating their children well. To do that I need to listen and process.”

9. “I’m really happy to see Homeschoolers Anonymous. I cringe when I think of some of the things that we tried to foist on our children in the name of homeschooling, and now I’m glad that they wouldn’t put up with it in most instances… I hope that Homeschoolers Anonymous is therapeutic and healing for your readers.”

10. “I’ve avoided the conservative homeschooling culture as much as possible… And I’ve heard from some parents who deeply regret having operated that way.  Thank you, thank you for helping the homeschooling community to confront these issues.  It’s an uphill battle, I know, but it’s an important one.  I’m homeschooling, I’m Christian (I’m a female pastor – so you can imagine that puts me on the outs in the homeschool world!), and I want you to know, I’m on your side.”

Feedback from graduates include:

1. “My homeschooling experience was really mild in comparison to most of the stories on HA, however reading about others’ experiences has been a great help for me to reconcile and finally understand a lot of what my family and I went through then.“

2. “My experiences were largely positive, there were a few jerks here and there but I am glad to say that I’m one of the lucky ones. I do think what you have been working on is really important, and it doesn’t surprise me that there was so much lurking under the surface for so many kids.”

3. “Thanks for getting the word out – my mom and I have had many conversations about this… It’s a big thing.”

4. “For the last five years I’ve felt like the biggest fuck up ever because I thought I was the only one that went nuts …Not to get sappy, but it really helps to know that I wasn’t the only one. Thank you.”

5. “In the last few weeks, I have received some sort of communication concerning just about every life changing or traumatic event that has happened to me. Friends from many circles are wanting to talk about things more and more. I first started going to therapy four years ago and I remember one lady telling me that healing never really stops, it’s a continual life long process. It’s like it comes in waves, and this is another wave of healing for me.“

6. “Reading the posts has brought back a lot of memories and emotions that I’d rather not revisit, but it means so much to know that I’m not the only person who experienced some of these things… Thank you for being brave and talking about it.”

7. “Thank you so much for connecting those of us who have been through the homeschooling experience. I felt extremely alone and didn’t realize there were so many others like me! Please keep up the good work, it’s an inspiration and has helped me begin healing.”

8. “The stories shared through your efforts have meant so much to me. Since I found your site in August, I have come to realize so much about my childhood and what I have become as a result of my experiences. I thought I was just weird.”

9. “I came across the HA blog through the article on The Daily Beast. Journeying as far as possible from my upbringing – involving fundamentalist homeschooling, a church cult, and an abusive home – has been a long and oftentimes lonely road. I have never found a venue that allows former homeschooled kids to share their stories like this.  So. There are certain moments in life, remarkable for their rarity, when you feel something pivoting, when a door opens and you can see a little light crinkling in. This is one such moment. I am not alone. I am not alone and I am not crazy. Now I want to start writing my story too. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

10. “I don’t think I would have ever found a way to be free as an adult if I hadn’t been shown your site by a friend. Before I found HA, I had no idea that anyone else went through what I did. Your website is life-changing, and life-saving.“