As graduation day arrives for many young people—and some parents (moms and dads graduating your last student, you know what I mean!)—the high school diploma becomes an important part of their journey to becoming an independent adult. HSLDA has been working for years on your behalf to help make your student’s transition from homeschooling to the next stage as smooth as possible.
Our position, now and always, is that homeschool graduates should not be treated differently than their public school peers because they have a parent-issued instead of state-issued diploma. Unfortunately, even decades after the start of the modern homeschooling movement, the journey to achieving post-high school goals isn’t always smooth and simple.
Despite an increasing number of laws and policies clarifying that a homeschool education and diploma should receive equal treatment with other forms of education and diplomas, some homeschool graduates still encounter bureaucratic misconceptions, red tape, and discrimination.
Going to bat for homeschool grads
In the past, we have seen numerous successes, dealing with everything from college and university admissions, to employment applications, to military enlistment requirements, to Social Security, to veterans’ benefits; and the list goes on and on.
We continue to advocate on behalf of hardworking homeschool grads everywhere, whenever and wherever they face disparate treatment by state and local officials, employers, tech or occupational schools, collegiate sports associations, or other organizations.
Here are just a few examples of the many homeschool grads we have recently helped enter the workforce.
- In September 2020, we helped a homeschool graduate set the record straight after he was told by employment background investigators that his diploma was invalid—for no reason other than that he was homeschooled. (In fact, this graduate was a previous HSLDA employee!)
- Later that month, we wrote a letter to a New Mexico detention facility that wouldn’t recognize a job applicant’s homeschool transcript and diploma.
- And in early 2021, we advocated for a Kansas graduate who had tried to apply for a job at the sheriff’s office and was initially disqualified on account of his homeschool diploma. He got the job!
The power of good laws
However, litigation and advocacy can be very lengthy processes, and they don’t always succeed: this is why good, homeschool-friendly legislation is so important. One of the most effective ways to show misguided public or private officials the legitimacy of homeschool diplomas is by pointing to specific homeschool-friendly laws, like we did in the following instances:
- In September 2020, the London Royal Academy of Music questioned a homeschool graduate’s application because they were unfamiliar with homeschool law in the US. A quick phone call, explaining Indiana’s home education law to the academy, brought them up to speed.
- In November 2020, a Tennessee homeschool grad received word that her college of choice didn’t know how to verify her graduation documents—and that, only days away from the application deadline. But after we encouraged them to take a look at the state’s homeschool law and clarified the legality of the applicant’s homeschool diploma, the college accepted the grad’s application in the nick of time.
- And in April 2021, HSLDA helped a homeschool family settle an extended struggle with a local education board in New York. The board claimed that the family lacked certain subject requirements on their homeschool education plan—and it took seven months for officials to acknowledge that their extra requirements were not mandated by law and to finish processing the family’s paperwork.
Our legal team at HSLDA continues to work closely with homeschool organizations and advocates across the country to keep a close eye on state and federal legislation that could impact homeschool freedom or homeschool discrimination. With each of the 50 states having its own homeschool laws and regulations, careful vigilance and teamwork are crucial for protecting established rights and identifying opportunities to improve laws and policies, making sure homeschool grads enter a level playing field as they pursue their dreams.
And, of course, we’re more than happy to continue advocating for homeschool freedom everywhere—even at Harvard University, the site of a recent academic conference featuring both Harvard Law School’s Elizabeth Bartholet and HSLDA’s Mike Donnelly.
Conclusion: A future that’s brighter than ever
With US Census figures indicating that the number of families homeschooling nationwide doubled during 2020, we know that there are more kids than ever enjoying the benefits of homeschool freedom.* And that means that, over the next decade, we’ll have more homeschool grads than ever.
That’s exciting! And that’s why we come to work every day at HSLDA.
We love hearing from grads and parents about how homeschooling opened the doors to a dramatically different learning experience and perspective. When the world becomes your teen’s classroom and real life is part of their curriculum, learning can suddenly involve all the ways they learn best. And homeschooling’s flexible schedule allows your student to develop their talents and explore their interests, which often may lead to a future career path.
So from all of us at HSLDA, congrats to 2021 homeschool grads (and to moms and dads)! We can’t wait to see where you go next!
* Steven Duvall, “A Research Note: Number of Adults Who Homeschool Children Growing Rapidly,” Journal of School Choice (2021): https://doi.org/10.1080/15582159.2021.1912563