In a series called “Homeschoolers are Out,” Homeschoolers Anonymous told stories of the life of conservative Christian homeschooling from the perspectives of LGBT individuals.
It was interesting to me that while bloggers such Libby Anne of Love Joy Feminism were used as mini props to parents who rallied against gay marriage, individuals like me and Melissa of Permission to Live were sheltered from learning that gays existed. The stories had a lot of diversity like that because our homes were all so different.
But there is always the party pooper. Not too surprising is that this series is quite controversial. This is what a group called Thinkers Incorporated said.
HA, specifically in their series of posts on the experiences of homeschoolers of alternate gender and sexual orientation, paints a picture of homeschooling that is foolishly simplistic. All religious homeschoolers do not believe that homosexuals should be stoned in the streets and bullied into oblivion. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a group of any size comprised of homeschoolers that really believes this hypocrisy.
While I do not doubt that real abuses have occurred, it is unfair and slanderous to claim that homeschoolers have some type of cultural mass objective of slamming the LGBT community. The underlying principle of home education is that full parenting control is in the hands of the parents. Thus they may choose to bring up their children however they see fit. Therefore, making any kind of generalization at all about homeschooling is fallacious. We are all different to some degree, and that’s frankly the point of the whole idea. We don’t have to subscribe to anyone else’s views on any subject.
I’d bang my head against the wall, except I need to use my head to write this. The whole point was that you don’t have to believe that gays should be stoned in order to not foster a safe environment for LBGT individuals. The point of the whole series is that bigotry is always bad whether we are talking stoning, shunning, or just not welcoming. Bigotry does exist in the Christian homeschool community. Those who do not welcome gays into their community are, actually, part of the problem.
I’m not speaking for the writer Luke Adams at Thinkers Incorporated; he may be very welcoming.
But just in general, most people I know don’t believe in stoning gays; yet, most conservatives I know are not overly welcoming gays into their communities. (Some might say it’s an oximoron for conservatives to welcome gays. But just ask Frank Schaeffer that who grew up in the 60s as the son of the fundamentalist parents Francis and Edith Schaeffer and saw lesbians kissing in their missions house. We conservatives make our bed and lie in it.)
I am not gay or bi, but I am scared to talk to old members of my homeschool community about what I believe about hell or life because I know people will judge me for it. In fact, Thinkers Incorporated themselves already judged me when they critized H.A. for their universalist bloggers, aka, me. [HA note: Lana is our only blog partner who self-identifies as a “Christian universalist”].
Homeschooling isn’t a very “safe” place to come out as anything not conservative: universalists, gay, lesbian, atheist, democrat, whatever.
This does not mean every homeschooler is bigoted or sexist or racist or whatever (although I think we all are more of those things than we care to admit – I include myself). But the Christian homeschool community is not safe for me, and I’m a straight Christian who does missions work.
Just stop and imagine what it would be like to come out gay in a conservative homeschool community, or any other religious, conservative, non-homeschool community, and then tell me we are over generalizing this, and that we don’t need to tell stories from LGBT individuals.
This is from Andrew, on growing up gay.
But from the moment I learned what “homosexual” meant, I knew that I would never truly be the person they wanted me to be, because I knew that I was inherently flawed. And as is often the case with things like this, once I knew what the word meant, I began noticing it everywhere. But in the conservative Christian circles (including homeschooling support groups) I was a part of, it was rarely something I heard in its entirety. Instead, it was like something just out of the corner of my eye, a fleeting shadow in the midst of a conversation. It was that-sin-which-must-not-be-named.
I did everything I could to try and “fix” myself, including looking into electroshock therapy, though thankfully I had to have a parent’s consent and there was no way I wanted to tell my parents. Eventually, after a failed attempt to turn myself straight by dating my then-best-friend (a woman) in college, I reached the end of my rope.
I fell into a deep depression, was suicidal on multiple occasions, and through it all was desperately trying to reconcile my faith (and thus the large majority of my friends and family) with my sexuality.
Now to be clear, Andrew has already said that this is not uniquely a homeschool problem. He wrote,
“In other words, I realized that I can’t blame ‘homeschooling’ or even ‘the homeschooling movement’ for the majority of my struggle in coming to accept and love the person that I am.”
But the point is that the messages he received was that he was flawed and needed fixing, and whether that battle comes from homeschooling, fundamentalism, secularism, or internal, it is always a toxic feeling. It is always a story that needs to be told, so we can heal of our bigotry together.
Everyone who shared their stories on H.A. has a different story. Some tell stories of people who welcomed them, and some tell stories where people shut the doors behind them. The point is that where bigotry exists – even if it’s not in Luke’s church – it is wrong. This is not a generalization; it is not a generalization about anything at all.
It is just individual stories, stories that need to be heard and told.
I’m listening. What about you?