Homeschool Discrimination

Discrimination – noun

treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit

It was the first time in 5 years I can remember it happening.

My kids were denied participation in something simply because they are homeschooled.

Our super-small town was hosting a cool community event and I was hoping to get my boys involved. Another homeschooling mom-friend of mine was also excited. We saw an opportunity for our kids to stretch their social muscles and exercise their individual personalities. She had told her oldest daughter all about the event and that darling child was just thrilled at the thought of it. Thrilled.

My friend and I set out to locate the information on how to get our kids involved because, like most of you, we believe it’s important as homeschool families that we seek out these kinds of opportunities. And that’s when it happened, we were told homeschoolers weren’t allowed to participate. The local school PTA technically happened to be the sponsor of the event and that allowed them to impose a “must be enrolled in school ‘X’ number of hours to participate” rule that can only serve to exclude homeschooled children. There is no other purpose a rule like that can serve. None.

I wanted to fight back. I planned to push the issue. I was put instantly on the defensive. I wont lie, I was hot.

I might be prone to a bit of a temper, just a bit. It could be a redhead thing, a Type-A thing or a Mama Bear thing, but that’s how it is……especially when it comes to any injustice (be it real or perceived) done to those three boys that are my sons. My first reaction was to be angry, to reel at the unfairness of it all, to stew in the images of a bunch of disappointed faces.

But then it hit me………

Life isn’t always fair.

Disappointment is a reality.

Anger doesn’t change policies.

Discrimination exists, in so many different ways.

Making the choice to homeschool our kids means there are some things we will have to let go, rethink, sacrifice or reinvent. This generation of homeschooling parents has access to a wealth of resources, support, activities, events and information. Something those that came before us didn’t always enjoy. Much of the opportunity, acceptance and freedom afforded to us as homeschoolers is because someone, some family, some group, somebody stood up for the right of families to direct the education of their own children. For that I am endlessly thankful.

I believe the challenge for us today is in deciding when the envelope needs to be pushed and when we need to look for alternatives or to employ out-of-the-box thinking for the opportunities we wish our children to have. I didn’t fight this particular battle, the event wasn’t something of super-importance to my kids and time didn’t allow. However, there are issues in our lives that warrant advocacy for ourselves and homeschoolers in general and it’s a bridge we’ll have to cross when the time comes.

So it goes, the balance we will have to find in each of our families. Some things will need to be accepted the way they are, others should be contended for change. Some rules and policies are set without even considering how it will affect the homeschool community, others deliberately target it. Some things will be easy to change, others impossible. We have been blessed with the freedom to make the decision to homeschool, but we can’t pretend that decision won’t carry its own bundle of challenges and battles along the way. Is the risk worth the rewards? Do the pros outweigh the cons? In our home, the answer is a resounding, YES! I would imagine most of you agree. Let us not forget the home education population grows every year, and there’s a strength to be found in those growing numbers!

Have you experienced a kind of discrimination in your homeschool lives? How did you react? Were you able to turn it into a positive learning experience for your children?

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  1. Local organizations have been pretty flexible about the fact that we are homeschoolers when it comes to participating in various activities or benefiting from student discounts. I live in the south and I have found that the conservative and religious climate is actually very supportive of homeschoolers. We do get excluded from anything that has to do with the local school system- sports, clubs, contests. For instance, there was an art contest sponsored by a local company and the school board so when we went to sign up we learned that only children who attended one of 4 local schools could compete. My kids also wish they could play sports, but our school system does not make allowances for homeschoolers to participate. In fact, most of the guff I get for being a homeschooler comes from people that work within the school system. I have had teachers and school counselors act very offended that I choose to home school and that is where I get most of the ignorant comments about socialization and hurting my children academically, but I can see where they are biased, haha.

    1. I hear ya, April! Each of the school districts in Montana are allowed to choose for themselves whether or not to allow homeschooled kids to participate in sports or other school-sponsored activities….none of the three districts I’ve lived in have allowed it. 🙁

  2. Hi Danielle,
    Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I read the article about 15 min. ago and what enrages me is how in some places they make fun events for kids to keep them off the streets and in your scenario they allow themselfs to not allow kids to participate solemnly because they are homeschooled.. How can they differentiate kids from kids?? It doesn’t matter who organized the event.. I don’t know if that makes sense but.. these were my thoughts *smile*

    I would’ve been on fire but of course you reacted the best way, in many ways the hardest as well!! May God grant you guys something better, it wasn’t meant to be 🙂 We haven’t had any negative experiences due to homeschooling but of course it is always better to stay calm, also to give on the right message to our children.

    Have a great day

  3. Nothing like that, but the manager at JoAnns acts like I’m scamming them every time I use my teacher card and it says “homeschooler” on it.

  4. I can certainly empathize but if it is a PTA sponsored event, then IMHO, it is for the kids who attend the local public schools no? If the Boy Scouts are having an event, not all community members can attend. If the local preschool is hosting a spring picnic, other community members wouldn’t just feel they had the right to attend would they?

    My children are not homeschooled but I have the utmost respect for those who choose this path. I just don’t think this is discrimination…more like sour grapes. 🙁

  5. Great article, friend. Yes, we have experienced a lot of HS discrimination while living in Germany. It is crazy. From the fact that it is illegal to HS here to living in a very small military community – we have faced it on all ends. We are not “technically” governed by anyone while we are in Germany so things are a bit tricky. Thankfully, like you said, we are able to reinvent many things and teach our children how to endure. It has been hard, I am not going to lie, especially for our oldest. She has been stretched to the max living here and is looking forward to going back home where it is LEGAL to HS!

  6. Meagan – Ultimately we pay for PUBLIC schools. They are funded by taxpayers and therefore ALL children should be allowed to participate.

    The Boy Scouts and Preschools are private entities, we do not fund them. We fund every aspect of public schools. Your opinion is skewed because you are comparing apples and oranges.

    Danielle – Wtg! You have inspired me.

    1. I guess we just see it differently….

      Public schools, and their additional programs, carry liability insurance for all their registered/enrolled students. Such “a la carte” public schooling is unfair to students who participate in the system. I pay taxes for the whole road, but I can’t “drive on the left side of the highway” or “pass on the shoulder.” There is a system in place, and the integrity of that system depends on everyone using it a certain way. We pay taxes to live in a civilized society. We all have a choice….public, private or homeschool. IMHO you can’t pick one and expect the benefits of the others. Unfair? Maybe.

    2. I was thinking the very same thing! Homeschool families pay taxes, which in turn support local education. Homeschooling families should have the right to use school facilities and services. It is discrimination, point blank.

  7. We have very friendly homeschooling laws in our state, which was passed unanimously by our legislature. Nonetheless, we still have some misinformed public school people who try to discriminate. I do believe that the PTA was wrong to discriminate against your family and friends. Public education funding is complex, but it’s still publicly funded by perhaps property taxes, or other t axes, state lands, etc. I admire you for keeping your calm about it. I wouldn’t have had your patience or good attitude. And in our area, anything the PTA is involved in is also a fundraiser. They sell tickets for the kids to participate in everything from games, jumphouses, food, or other programs. They are constantly fundraising. Thus it’s publicly funded.

    When my sis-in-law took care of my kids for a couple of days when I was in hospital and my husband stayed with me, she brought our kids with her to walk her kids to school. After the school kids went inside building, she suggested my kids and her toddler play on the playground a little while. Then a teacher came out and screamed at them to get off the playground and that only enrolled students can be on the playground. My sister-in-law went straight to the principal who appologized to her and said that the teacher was wrong about it.

    Surprise! surprise! Public school teachers and PTA people don’t know everything. Sometimes the PTA forgets that the P stands for parents. And my sister-in-law ended up pulling her kids out of that school because her oldest boy was being ignored by the teacher and wasn’t being taught to read. Her kids are doing much better learning at home in an online charter school–one step closer to homeschooling…but that’s another story. I don’t mean to bash public school teahcers, I just wish that they and the unions would stop bashing parents for choosing an education that is best for their kids.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. Danielle,
    You did well in choosing your battles and allowing this one to pass. I would have also been mad. What upsets (or really disappoints) me the most is when businesses and organizations (not public school related) have contests or events (ex: art/science/math/writing for scholarships, etc.) and don’t allow homeschoolers to participate. Over the years, I have come to realize that homeschoolers aren’t always allowed. Because of that, we look to participate in events where we are welcome and also get a little creative and make our way.

    We decided to homeschool. If only this were the only discrimination we knew. I would rather do without some things, then sacrifice the opportunity and joy we’ve had homeschooling.

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