Bill of Rights for Homeschooled Children

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We, a group of homeschool graduates who work for, volunteer for, and serve on the board of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education;

Considering that millions of children in grades K-12 are homeschooled in the United States each year, that these children have inherent dignity and rights, and that being homeschooled impacts not only a child’s education but also their whole lives, including their friendships, socialization, and access to the wider community and resources;

Recognizing that homeschooling does not offer a single unified experience, and that some homeschooled children have an empowered, fulfilling education and a childhood that prepares them for successful lives as self-sufficient adults, while other children who are homeschooled experience educational neglect, deprivation, isolation, and abuse aggravated by a lack of contact with mandatory reporters who might intervene;

Bearing in mind that children who are homeschooled are not present in the nation’s public schools, and as such lack access to programs for the promotion of child welfare that are operated through these institutions, including food and nutrition programs, age-appropriate sex education, monitoring for child abuse and neglect, and professional college and career counseling;

Recalling that children who are homeschooled do not automatically have access to mentors outside of the home, exposure to views and ideas other than those of their parents, or access to educational records, medical screenings, or friendships, and that access to these experiences must be cultivated intentionally with the support of their parents and guardians;

Acknowledging that most parents want what is best for their children, and that laying out the rights of homeschooled children in an organized and deliberate fashion may help these parents better support not only their child’s education but also their child’s physical, mental, and social well-being and development into self-sufficient, independent adults;

Understanding that change comes first through sharing stories, educating our communities, and raising consciousness; that widespread changes in society and culture will more fully safeguard and promote children’s rights than legal mandates; and that we are communicating an aspirational vision for the future; 

Drawing on our personal experiences being homeschooled, as well as knowledge gained over years of advocacy for children who are homeschooled and on a growing body of research and published data on homeschooling;

Do affirm the following rights for homeschooled children:  

Article I: Care and Safety

Children who are homeschooled have the right to the care necessary for their well-being, physical and mental safety, and respect for their human dignity. 
    1. The right to adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and the same quality of life that their parents have. 
    2. The right to be free from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect, maltreatment, or exploitation, including sexual abuse.
    3. The right to be disciplined in a manner consistent with their human dignity. 
    4. The right to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to interfere with their schooling or with their health and well-being; the right to adequate time and energy to complete their academic studies or interests. 
    5. The right to positive feedback and emotional support; the right to be believed in.
    6. The right to be treated and allowed to act in developmentally appropriate ways; the right to be a child, without being infantilized, expected to behave as an adult, or made to assume adult responsibilities such as caregiving or breadwinning. 

Article II: Education and Future

Children who are homeschooled have a right to a quality education that centers their interests and prepares them for an open future. 
  1. The right to an education that prepares them for an open future: that is, the meaningful ability to successfully enter a career of their choice or to attend an institution of higher learning with the major of their choice without substantial impediment. 
  2. The right to an education that supports the development of the child’s personality, talents, and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential. 
  3. The right to an education that is, at minimum, academically comparable to what would be available to the child in public school.
  4. The right to provide input and make choices regarding their own education, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child; the right to attend public school if they wish to do so.
  5. The right to be introduced to and access instructional materials covering a broad range of subject areas, including reading, writing, mathematics, science, history, and the arts; the right to information and technology literacy; the right to age-appropriate sex education materials.
  6. For older children, the right to access educational records and related support, including: a high school diploma and transcript; parents’ completion of a FAFSA and provision of other records or documents required by institutions of higher learning; and access to professional college and career counseling and information.

Article III: Friendships and Community

Children who are homeschooled have the right to relationships with friends, family members, and mentors, as well as access to the wider community, both in-person and in other contexts. 
  1. The right to choose friends and maintain friendships; the right to meaningful, unscripted relationships with peers; the right to frequent interactions with peers.
  2. The right to an age-appropriate level of privacy and freedom from arbitrary interference in their friendships; the right to parental guidance on how to maintain and navigate healthy friendships and parental affirmation of the importance of friendships.
  3. The right to have meaningful relationships with grandparents, adult siblings who no longer live in the home, and other extended family members, including those who may hold varying philosophical or religious viewpoints, unless these relationships would be detrimental to the child’s safety or physical or mental health.
  4. The right to have access to their community, including clubs, events, groups, public spaces, and mentors; the right to unscripted access to trustworthy, caring adults outside the home.
  5. The right to hear diverse views, and the right to practice negotiating between their family’s home culture and the culture of the wider society.

Article IV: Physical and Mental Healthcare

Children who are homeschooled have a right to physical and mental healthcare. 

  1. The right to the highest attainable standard of health and to care and treatment by licensed medical professionals: to preventive care, including annual well-child visits; to medications, sanitary products, and pain management; and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. 
  2. The right to, at minimum, the same level of access to vaccinations and health checks (including physical, dental, vision, and hearing screenings) as is afforded students in their local public schools.  
  3. The right to access mental healthcare from a licensed medical professional; the right to access prescription medications for the care of mental health.
  4. The right to provide input and make choices regarding their own medical care and mental healthcare, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child; the right to privacy when speaking with medical and mental healthcare professionals if so desired.
  5. The right to the same level of access to physical fitness, sports, and recreational opportunities as is available to their peers in public or private schools.

Article V: Disability

Disabled children who are homeschooled, including those with learning disabilities or invisible disabilities, have their own distinct needs and rights.

  1. The right to learn about disability history and culture; the right to participate and engage in disability communities where they live and to have access to peers and adults who share their disability.
  2. The right to make and be consulted in decisions regarding their disabilities and the care they receive; the right to be taught the legal rights of disabled people, and to know their rights to access and inclusion; the right to be taught to navigate self-advocacy.
  3. The right to be evaluated and periodically re-evaluated; the right to access and receive therapies and medical care from licensed providers; the right to accommodations and services, including medical and assistive devices which grant independence and facilitate learning and communication; the right to an individualized education plan developed in concert with providers outside the home.
  4. The right to enjoy a full and decent life in conditions that ensure dignity, promote self-reliance, and facilitate the child’s active participation in the community; the right to preparation for employment and recreation opportunities in a manner conducive to achieving the fullest possible social integration and individual development.
  5. For children who are blind, deaf or hard of hearing, or autistic, the right to linguistic and cultural pride centered around that identity; for children who are blind, deaf, or hard of hearing, the right to access braille and sign languages; for children who are autistic, the right to have their neurological differences appreciated and accommodated, and freedom from therapies that center allistic developmental timetables.

Article VI: Adoption

Homeschooled children who are adopted, particularly transracially, have a right to full membership in their adoptive families and the right to explore and access their birth cultures. 

  1. The right to full membership and participation in their adoptive families, including the same level of care and attention as is bestowed on any birth children in their adoptive families; equal legal rights to siblings born of the family; the right to benefit from any funds provided by the state for their care.
  2. The right to their own feelings about their adoption and the loss of their birth family; freedom from exposure to any negative feelings their adoptive family may hold about their birth origins; the right to create their own life story and narrative. 
  3. The right to know their birth families where it is safe to do so, consistent with the law and with court orders. 
  4. For children who are adopted transracially, the right to access and participate in their first languages and cultures; the right to have their racial and ethnic heritage and culture embraced, accepted, and valued by their adoptive families; the right to frequent and ongoing access to peers and adults who share their race or ethnicity; the right to grow up in a diverse community where their race or ethnicity will not single them out; the right to develop their own racial and cultural identity.

Article VII: Expression and Belief

Children who are homeschooled have a right to freedom of expression and belief. 

  1. The right to self expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas orally, in writing, or in print; the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, and the right to choose their own beliefs and to have those beliefs respected. 
  2. The right to an age-appropriate level of privacy and freedom from arbitrary invasion or interference, particularly in their communications, technology use, and writings.
  3. The right to self-identify and to have their gender identity, expression, and sexual orientation respected and affirmed by their family and community; the right to have access to peers and adults who share their identities.
  4. The right to learn about not only their own family’s culture and values but also the culture and values of their community, of the wider society, and of civilizations different from their own. 
  5. The right to learn to live in peace and understanding with those of different races, ethnicities, nationalities, sexes, gender identities, sexual orientations, physical abilities, philosophies, and religions. 

Article VIII: Autonomy and Independence 

Children who are homeschooled have a right to the autonomy they need to develop into self-sufficient, independent, functioning adults and citizens.
  1. The right to play, rest, and leisure time, and access to hobbies and interests of their own; the right to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
  2. The right to education and information about their bodies and rights in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child; the right to develop their own identities and move toward graduated independence.
  3. The right to own possessions and to have that ownership respected by the adults around them, without fear of having those possessions damaged or destroyed for the purposes of manipulation or control; the right to retain possession of one’s own money and savings, both as a child and when transitioning into adulthood.
  4. The right to age-appropriate access to transportation, communication tools, and financial resources, together with information, instruction, and guidance on their appropriate use.
  5. The right to have a birth certificate and a social security number when legally entitled to one, and to have access to both; the right to earn a driver’s license or hold an equivalent government-issued identification card, and to have access to it.
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