If You Weren’t Homeschooled, Don’t Make Homeschooling Your Punchline

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

I was dismayed the other day to read Amanda Marcotte’s piece “Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham: It’s not about science versus faith. It’s about public education.” I was dismayed for a number of reasons, but I want to focus on the reasons related to Marcotte quoting me in her piece.

First (and least importantly), Marcotte — while trying to make the case that fundamentalists are stupid — failed to spell my last name correctly. And my last name isn’t hard to spell. Second, she took the words I said in Kathryn Joyce’s amazing piece on homeschooling for the American Prospect completely out of context and haphazardly slapped them onto her piece as if they had something to do with her own point. Which they don’t.

Third, and most importantly, Marcotte’s whole piece drips with condescension towards those “stupid fundamentalists.” “They may not be the smartest bunch,” she says — qualifying that by saying they “aren’t that stupid.” Implying that, well, they’re still pretty damn stupid.

Yes, there are some truly fascinating individuals out there with some truly remarkable ideas. There is a wealth of material for stand-up comedians.

But to Marcotte as well as atheists and progressive Christians who like to rubberneck when observing fundamentalists:

Please don’t appropriate my life and my words and the lives and words of other homeschool alumni for your hit pieces against fundamentalism. We have zero interest in being your meme.

Homeschool alumni are not telling our stories for your entertainment.

We’re not telling our stories so that you can call our culture or parents stupid. If you do that, then honestly, you’re no better than our culture or parents.

We’re done with being pawns on the culture war chessboard. We’re not pawns for Christians and we’re not pawns for atheists. We are neither cautionary tales nor anti-Christian fodder.

We have spent our entire lives overcoming stereotypes. Our parents pushed us to the point of breaking because they wanted us to prove those stereotypes wrong; we forced ourselves into all sorts of predicaments to break free from those stereotypes. We are now shouting as loud as we can that some of those stereotypes have truth to them and they need to be taken seriously.

But here all the bystanders come, sweeping in and trotting out the stereotypes all over again, just to get a laugh or content for another asinine Buzzfeed article.

That’s not cool.

We are more than the stereotypes foisted upon us by our parents and by people who think our parents are “not the sharpest bunch.”

Many of the stories we share are painful, so painful, just to think about — even more painful to write. But we summon the courage to share our stories because we want to help each other as well as kids being raised just like we were. We want to reach out to them and show them a path away from fundamentalism. But when you stereotype and mock, you are making our job that much harder.

Pointing and laughing is not helping. Instead, it adds fuel for those who grow increasingly hostile and terrified of “the world” because people like you — the “evil atheists” and “liberal Christians” — say the things you do. In turn, the fundamentalists feel more pressure to isolate their children — from people like you, but also from people like us.

If you actually care about people like us, about the homeschool kids and alumni out there who have been impacted by fundamentalism, then help us. Tell our stories.

Treat our stories as more than anti-fundie click bait.

Otherwise, let us do our work in peace.