Laser hair removal is a routine procedure that poses little risk to patients when clinicians are fully trained.

Because sisters Rachel and Hannah (names changed in order to protect their privacy) understood this, they didn’t complain about red tape when they applied to a state-appointed board last December as the final step toward becoming licensed electrologists. They were astonished, however, when officials denied their request—simply because the sisters were homeschooled.

HSLDA intervened on behalf of these siblings, and they did receive their licenses after a delay of several months.

This unexpected obstacle toward advancing in a new career frustrated them for several reasons. First, they’d already been offered the opportunity to join an established Florida clinic—a prospect the sisters had to put on hold while officials deliberated the status of their license applications. Second, the objection to their high school credentials struck them as puzzling considering that they are also college graduates who have several years of experience in various careers.

“We never had any issues,” Rachel said, referring to previous times they used their homeschool records to seek jobs and additional education.

Faced with this new dilemma, they were unsure how to proceed.

“We were at a crossroads,” she added.

Many Ways to Learn

Rachel and Hannah were homeschooled from kindergarten through 12th grade. Their parents focused on helping them take advantage of a wide range of opportunities beyond core academics, particularly in high school. Hannah volunteered with an equestrian therapy organization that helped children with special needs, and Rachel joined a theater group, where she acted in a number of Shakespearean plays.

Thanks to Florida’s dual enrollment program, both sisters took courses through the local community college. By the time they finished high school, each had earned 40 college credits.

After receiving diplomas in a ceremony hosted by their homeschool co-op, the sisters transferred to four-year accredited colleges in Florida. Rachel earned a bachelor's degree in communications and hospitality management, and Hannah completed a bachelor's degree in nursing.

Since college, Rachel has worked as a tutor, and Hannah as both a private and hospital nurse.

Recently, after getting to know the owner of a hair removal clinic, the sisters were invited to join the staff. “I wanted to mix things up and go part-time at the hospital,” Hannah said.

They enrolled in a state-approved electrolysis academy, where they completed a three-month course. Hannah said she appreciated the hands-on training, which helped demonstrate how to operate hair-removal devices safely. These include low-intensity lasers and needles charged with an electric current.

“You can burn a patient’s skin if you don’t know what you’re doing,” Hannah said. “You have to judge the strength of current for a particular hair type.”

Diploma Questioned

In December the sisters passed the state exam that qualified them to apply for clinicians’ licenses in Florida.

Then they received an email in January from the Florida Electrolysis Council, the relevant regulatory body. The email said their diplomas did not “meet the requirement” for licensing.

At first, they thought the problem might be the result of a simple error, such as a misspelled word or a missing signature, so Rachel called a board member to resolve the situation.

Rachel said the conversation left her confused and alarmed. The official she spoke to seemed unwilling to do more than reiterate her restrictive view of regulations.

“It seemed like she was just reading off a paper and wasn’t giving me any time to ask questions,” Rachel recalled. The official did agree to put the sisters on the agenda for the next meeting of the Electrolysis Council in April.

Meanwhile, Rachel and Hannah asked their mother to help compile transcripts and other documentation from their high school years. They also contacted Home School Legal Defense Association.

Conflicting Policies

HSLDA Senior Counsel Tj Schmidt wrote to the Electrolysis Council on behalf of the sisters. He affirmed that their family had been HSLDA members for 20 years, and made two points regarding relevant Florida laws: First, he contrasted the council’s treatment of Rachel and Hannah with a Florida statute that requires equal treatment of homeschool graduates seeking to enter state-funded community colleges. And second, he pointed out that Florida law treated homeschool graduates equally with high school graduates from public school.

The sisters also submitted personal homeschool paperwork, including a document from the local public school district confirming that the siblings had indeed completed high school in accordance with state law.

At the council’s meeting on April 8, members approved electrolysis licenses for Rachel and Hannah—about three months after they had applied.

Rachel has since begun training at the clinic. Hannah hopes to join the staff soon.

“I’m excited—and grateful,” Hannah said. “HSLDA really made the difference.”

Schmidt said he is pleased to have been able to help these deserving graduates, but added he finds it distressing that homeschoolers are still not granted equal treatment by every department of the Florida government.

“There are already three state agencies that say, as long as homeschoolers have complied with the law, they are high school graduates,” he said. “The fact that a board within the Department of Health does not recognize homeschool graduates this way—I think it’s outright discrimination.”