Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Secular Homeschoolers Uniting!

 The National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers

The first three years of our homeschooling journey were spent with me vacillating between feeling uncomfortable and antagonistic.  I tried to fit in for Punky’s sake.  I wanted her to have friends and activities and the only available avenue was to join the Christian groups where I was uncomfortable.  The longer I tried the more antagonistic I became.  Remember, I am the inappropriate homeschooler so it wasn’t just my personal beliefs that I was trying to squelch, but who *I* was, as a human being.  The situation reached critical mass in the Spring of  2012 after being asked to step down as a teacher at the local co-op because I had been ‘exposed’ as teaching my daughter it was okay that people were gay and having adjusted the wording to the statement of faith I had been required to sign.  With this final ‘nail’ in the coffin, we were now out of options for both a social and educational homeschooling community.

It was fortuitous that a small secular homeschooling group had been started, unbeknownst to me, during this time.  It was a tremendous joy when I was contacted about joining this group.  I found my place!  Not only were my views allowed, but my personality was appreciated.  Punky made friends and we were both delighted.  It was because of this group that I found my footing again.  I slowly started to deconstruct the wall I had built and became more and more comfortable with being me.  What a relief!  It was during this time that the joke started, as a result of the things I would say or views I would express, that I was the inappropriate homeschooler!  Friends encouraged me to start a blog and viola!  The Inappropriate Homeschooler started a blog and then a facebook page.

The IH facebook page is what brought people to me and many shared their stories with me.  I was expressing views and opinions that many seemed to share regarding the isolation, rejection, and even hardships they experienced as secular homechoolers in a predominately religious community.  I was saddened to learn how many homeschoolers were facing what I had faced, not only because they were secular, but because of who they were as human beings.  They were gay, they were liberal, they were atheists, they were pagans, they were peaceful parents, they were organic homesteaders, they were unschoolers, traditional schoolers, cyber schoolers, they were REAL.   They were not trying to be “Martha Stewart Moms’ – everything done to perfection.  I was admitting to the world (ok, to the 5 people who initially read my blog) that I was a secular homeschooler.  I was not a “Martha Stuart Mom”.  I drank, smoked, cursed, and was what the rest of the homeschooling community judged to be inappropriate.

Thus the Inappropriate Homeschooler support group began!  It is hard to believe that it has only been seven months since that group began.  In those seven months people have come and people have gone.  People have found sanctuary, a safe haven, and people have come together and supported one another on their life journey that includes being secular homeschoolers.   The support groups does not meet everyone’s needs and my definition of inappropriate is not everyone’s definition, but the 500+ members the group has have created a haven. 

It was in the group that the idea of The Inappropriate Homeschooler hosting a homeschooling convention began.  It started as a way for us to meet in real life, to throw a huge Inappropriate Party and it evolved to discussing the need for secular curriculum and wanting vendors and then workshops that were for secular homeschoolers given by secular homeschoolers.  Being inappropriate, I wanted a name for it that was different.  So, the Throng was conceived!

Along the way, a blog post I had written a while back talking about the need for a national organization for secular homeschoolers became a topic.  I had written that blog post, and conceived of the name, as a result of a conversation in a secular fb group of which I was once a member.  Unfortunately no forward movement happened with the idea in that group with those folks but the idea was still swimming around in my mind and I shared it with the IHers.  It caught on quickly and thoughts turned to how we could incorporate N.A.S.H. into the Throng.

The Inappropriate Homeschooler is proud to host the Executive Planning Sessions for The National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers at the Throng in September in Atlanta, GA.  N.A.S.H is for all secular homeschoolers and is a separate entity from The Inappropriate Homeschooler. 

The National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers endeavors to unify secular homeschoolers to be a strong, significantly influential force in the world of homeschooling and to transform homeschooling for the 21st century and beyond.

In order to unite secular homeschoolers, a N.A.S.H. membership will need to not only provide its membership with a great service, but it must provide its membership with something more; a platform, a voice, in the homeschooling community as a whole.    NASH needs to be unique.  In the world of secular homeschooling, challenges include not only being a minority (secular) in a minority (homeschooling), but also being 'scattered'.  The religious homeschooling community has strength of numbers, but they also have a strength of purpose.  Despite any denominational differences that exist within the religious homeschooling community they unite and have power by identifying with one label - religious.

The secular homeschooling community needs to be as united under the one label 'secular'.  In order to accomplish that goal the term 'secular' needs to be broadly (to attract the most members) yet clearly (providing a unified purpose) defined.  N.A.S.H. can do just that.  The first step in creating NASH is to clearly define its mission and the very definition of 'secular' homeschooling is a must.

During the Executive Planning Sessions for N.A.S.H. a definition of secular homeschooling will be finalized along with the organization’s mission statement,  From the Vision statement and Mission State the organizations goals will be outlined.  These goals could include:
  • An interactive website
  • Legal representation
  • Home School Graduation
  • Home School Identification Cards
  • A Facebook linked closed group for all paying members
  • An Annual National Secular Convention 
  • A Media Presence
  • A Political and Social voice to influence and shape homeschooling.
All secular homeschoolers are invited to attend the N.A.S.H. executive planning sessions.  Secular vendors are invited to attend the sessions.  Secular group leaders have been invited to attend the sessions as well. With the number of homeschoolers increasing each year, and more and more of them identifying as secular, NOW is the time to come together under one unifying purpose and work together to influence and shape the future of homeschooling as well as taking our rightful place in the world of homeschooling. 

~Mari B.

The National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers, hosted by The Inappropriate Homeschooler, invites YOU to the Inaugural Conference of N.A.S.H.!! Are you a home-educating family, and feel like you just don’t fit in? Are you looking for excellent resources, and an opportunity to socialize with like-minded homeschoolers? Are you excited about being a secular homeschooler and want to shout it from the rooftops? The Inappropriate Homeschoolers Throng is THE PLACE TO BE! Come join us for awesome presentations, amazing resources and vendors, and the most appropriate inappropriate socializing you could possibly imagine! Come learn about how to incorporate gaming into your home education repertoire, check out curriculum that is entirely secular, and laugh and lunch with like-minded home educators? Need to bring the kids? NO PROBLEM! Bring them along, too, and let them enjoy activities and sessions that pertain to their interests. Harry Potter? Minecraft? We’ve got that!! And the best yet, come get in on the ground floor for the launch of the National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers, an organization designed to support secular homeschooling families like yours. Come be a part of this innovative new project, and see for yourself how truly exciting inappropriately homeschooling with NASH can be. We cannot wait to see you there!


  1. I'm nearly speechless. But you know that's not possible. ;) Just amazing, Mari. You have often brought tears to my eyes with your words. I'm so excited about this whole endeavor, especially since you are the one at the helm. Rock on!!!

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