The No True Homeschooler Argument: Rebecca Irene Gorman’s Thoughts


Also by Rebecca on HA: “I Was Beaten, But That’s Not My Primary Issue With Homeschooling” and “‘Fake Someone Happy’: A Book Review.” 

“No true Scotsman is an informal fallacy, an ad hoc attempt to retain an unreasoned assertion. When faced with a counterexample to a universal claim (“no Scotsman would do such a thing”), rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original universal claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of the assertion to exclude the specific case or others like it by rhetoric, without reference to any specific objective rule (“no true Scotsman would do such a thing”).”

When my mother decided to homeschool us, we became homeschoolers.

We joined the local homeschool support group, my mother bought our textbooks at the state homeschooling convention, and we paid dues to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. We joined a homeschool choir, homeschool art classes, and homeschool sports team.  We went to homeschool park days and joined in on ‘homeschool day’ at Raging Waters.

To the other homeschoolers it was clear: we were homeschoolers.

The people my parents interacted with in a personal or professional capacity knew that we were homeschooled and asked us the normal homeschooler questions: “But what about socialization?”, “How can a parent teach their children subjects they don’t know?”, etc., and we answered them with the same responses homeschool parents and children publish on the internet today.

We joined the homeschool debate league, for which being legitimately homeschooled (by their definition, legitimate meant: not attending any school) was an enforced requirement. When my mother hosted homeschooler debate conferences, it was unquestionable that we were homeschooled.

When we hosted homeschool game nights, homeschool dances, homeschool ‘Reformation Day’ parties, we were a celebrated part of the homeschool community. When a family friend’s daughter was struggling with school, her parents asked my mother to homeschool her for the rest of the year to get her caught up with her grade.

When my mother was frequently complimented on how ‘good’ her teenagers were, ‘not like teenagers at all but like little adults’, our homeschooling was the accepted cause. When I was admitted to community college and college, my homeschooling was clearly understood as my background. When I ‘graduated’ high school, we rented out a church with four other homeschool graduates, packing out the building and holding an elegant outdoor buffet for the homeschool community on the neighboring school’s lawn after.

For years after, I was accepted as a part of the homeschool graduate community.

I participated in the exclusive ‘Homeschool Alumni’ network. I connected with other adult homeschoolers and compared notes about our childhoods. Nobody questioned the fact that I had been homeschooled. Instead, it was celebrated as the reason for my intelligence, creativity, work ethic, and academic success. Due to my father’s unique position in our local community, there were – and there are – (and this is not an exaggeration) easily more than a thousand people who knew that I was homeschooled, that I played the harp, and that I went to Santa Clara University, followed by Oxford. Many of them knew my face, and possibly even name, as well. I was the homeschooling success story of Saratoga, California, and my family was a model family, one strangers regularly told me I was ‘so lucky’ to be a part of.

But the moment I say that homeschooling enabled my parents to hide abuse and neglect, all of these facts melt away.

I’m no longer a homeschooling poster child.

After all, no true homeschooler would abuse or neglect their child.

I was an aberration. My family was a one-off, virtually non-occurring instance. The families we knew in which the entire community softly murmured about how the children were sexually abused, or neglected, but did not report because ‘it would give a bad reputation to homeschooling’ or ‘the children would be taken away’ also become aberrations the moment I mention them publicly. The number of homeschoolers I personally knew via activities such as homeschool support groups or homeschool debate who were also mistreated, several of which have written for HA, has no reflection on the percentage of homeschool homes where mistreatment occurs. After all, they weren’t true homeschoolers either.

The true homeschoolers were the ones who gave their kids great educations and a great upbringing.

Every account of homeschool experiences should, we all know, contain a disclaimer: ‘not all homeschooling families are like this. Most homeschool families are loving homes that provide their children with an excellent education’. Except, we don’t have any evidence or statistics that this is true. So why is this a required disclaimer? How can we even make this statement at all?

It’s also appropriate to ask: what do the phrases “loving home” and “excellent education” mean to the homeschool leaders and parents who use them? They tell us that true homeschoolers spank their kids, sure, but not to an abusive extent. It’s just to teach them to respect authority. True homeschoolers don’t isolate their kids; they just keep them inside during school hours to avoid calls to CPS, and they protect them from worldly influences. True homeschoolers aren’t educationally neglected; instead, many homeschool girls are raised to succeed at the high calling of being wives and mothers, learning home arts such as cooking, sewing, and cleaning, and taught applied academics as well – for example, how to multiply and divide via cooking lessons, and geometry through sewing.

Start asking specific questions about the ‘happy’ home and ‘good’ education they describe, and an unexpected picture often emerges.

After I had been working with my therapist for three years, she said to me, “You had a truly horrible experience, but I don’t think it is a reflection on homeschooling as a whole. All the other homeschoolers I’ve talked to have had great experiences.” I responded, “Yes, but how many of them were graduated homeschool kids?” Her eyes visibly widened as she replied, “Actually, they were all homeschool parents. That’s a good point. I never thought of that before.”

Homeschool parents: stop crying ‘no true homeschooler.’ If you can’t, an echo of Shakespeare comes to mind: “Methinks thou dost protest too much.”

Allowing the Devil to Undress You: The Slut-Shaming of a Former Homeschooler

Teresa Scanlan.
Teresa Scanlan.

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator


A disgrace.

A destructive force against families.

Homeschool dropout.

A rat turd.

These are but a number of phrases used on HSLDA’s Facebook page in reference to Teresa Scanlan, a former homeschooler attending Patrick Henry College. These are not phrases used by HSLDA; in fact, HSLDA has championed Teresa as a homeschool success story. But these phrases are also not coming from anti-homeschoolers or liberal secularists.

They are coming from fans (or at least previous fans) of HSLDA.

Yesterday, HSLDA shared about Teresa’s life and homeschooling experience in light of her being crowned Miss America in 2011. It was obviously about marketing to some extent — “the secret behind the crown was homeschooling!,” HSLDA says. But it also was about celebrating a young woman with passion and drive.

But things got ugly.

Some of HSLDA’s fans were livid. In fact, if you were looking for evidence that the modesty and purity culture that exists within Christian homeschooling can lead to some truly dehumanizing and dangerous thoughts, look no further than what unfolded.

Here is HSLDA’s original post about Teresa Scanlan, and here is the link to the post on Facebook:

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.38.33 PM

The comments that some people are leaving on HSLDA’s post about Teresa are frankly alarming. They are misogynistic and dripping with body-shaming. They even are scarily reminiscent of rape culture — that women are responsible for men’s lust and are “asking for it.”


There is direct, no-holds-barred slut-shaming going on right on HSLDA’s Facebook page.

Check it out:

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.39.55 PM

Yes, you read that right. Someone is pulling their support from HSLDA because of HSLDA’s link — which was merely a link to their original radio series about Teresa. Because old men and young men might “fix their eyes” upon Teresa dressed in a rather conservative red dress (you can’t even see her shoulders!).

Now you might wonder: how is that picture immodest? Well, it isn’t. But fear not. People encouraged other people to google her in a bikini. (Does that sound a bit hypocritical? Because it is hypocritical, and also slightly creepy.)

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.40.12 PM

Not everyone on HSLDA’s page, however, was attacking Teresa. Some people tried to defend her – and then got promptly slut-shamed, too.

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.40.49 PM

Yes, if you participate in a pageant, you have caused men to commit adultery and you will be “held accountable of Judgement Day.”

The comments continue:

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.41.21 PM

Another defender, who is attacked:

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.41.58 PM

By the way, Teresa is a Christian.

Not just “a” Christian, but a conservative Christian. In fact, she points out in her radio interview with HSLDA that many of the young women that participate in pageants are actually conservative Christians:

Actually, the majority of contestants, believe it or not, are Christian conservatives, I found, in the competition. And then the judges, in my interview, they have my resume in front of them, and they saw a lot of church activities and things on there, so during my interviews, several of them actually asked me questions about my faith.

But that does not stop people from judging her relationship with God:

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.42.34 PM


Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.44.52 PM

It really is a train wreck. They call her a “homeschool dropout,” and attack her for wanting a career:

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.43.00 PM

They compare her to a “rat turd”:

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.43.21 PM

They do not hesitate to link to her Facebook profile (which, as we all know, will probably lead to further online bullying, harassment, and slut-shaming):

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.44.38 PM

This is not to even mention the likely hypocrisy and double standard of some people in the homeschooling community when they only think of modesty and purity in terms of women. What about men?

Were all these people up in arms when Tim Tebow went shirtless for magazines?

Or were they parading Tebow around as a homeschool superhero? Kathryn brilliantly pointed out (not on HSLDA’s page) this double standard about equally harmless actions:

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.45.14 PM

Credit must be given to those people who are defending Teresa on HSLDA’s page. This goes to show that not all homeschoolers — in fact, not all Christian homeschoolers — believe in the toxic ideas behind modesty and purity culture ideology.

I commend those people for standing up against those ideas and the people that would use those ideas to shame a young woman.

We need to push back like this. We need more homeschoolers to speak up against these ideas (and not just against the modesty and purity culture ideas). Teresa’s own experience has demonstrated that this shaming is (very sadly) nothing new to her:

When I first won, I thought, of course, that I would get criticism from the public in general about being a Christian, but it was kind of surprising to me that probably the most criticism I received was actually from conservative Christians that competing in the competition like Miss America did not line up with their morals and values.

No one deserves to be abused and harassed in this manner, regardless of their way of dress, their gender, their political or religious beliefs, or anything else. In fact, I commend HSLDA for being willing to champion a conservative Christian woman who is — through her actions — bravely overturning some of the deeply held assumptions in some conservative Christian circles. She is celebrating her beauty and her body, she is going to college, and she has high career aspirations — in fact, as HSLDA mentions in their bio of her, “her highest career goals are to run for president in 2028 or to be nominated to the Supreme Court.”

She also hopes to educate people about eating disorders.

She has expressed a desire to “educate children and adults alike as to the signs and risks of eating disorders, as well as how and where to get help for themselves or a loved one.”

More power to her.