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View Full Version : Frustrations with our local "inclusive" group



mamaraby
09-23-2010, 01:50 AM
This is my second year being a member of our local "inclusive" homeschooling group. Last year I gave up midway because it just seemed like it was a defacto Christian group (well..that and they didn't seem to do anything).

This year I joined because a friend of mine was heading it up and I thought that perhaps it might be different. I'm finding myself frustrated again for some of the same reasons. Every time I interact with someone from the group it's clear from their vernacular that they are. The number of folks using overtly Christian curriculums - admonishing others that what happens was God's will and advising people when making homeschooling choices to "pray and ask what God would have them do with their family" seems to be quite prevalent.

Granted...I could be more sensitive than others...still. There are two co-ops in the area. Two. And they're both specifically Christian complete with doctrinal statement. There's a *third* one that folks participate in within a 40 minute drive. They are linked to from our group's website and announce their events (political and otherwise) from our forum.

Given all of that, and believing that perhaps there were others along our family out there I asked my friend for a feel on receptivity to me posting about a secular science group because I think my son would have a blast. I was told in a roundabout way it would "label" me and that there were families that wouldn't associate with ours as a result.

It's ok apparently for the conservative Evangelical types to post their events complete with doctrinal statement, but my little group would be deemed dangerous enough to warrant a label. Without fail the co-ops have been mentioned to me a number of times in the group and when I ask something along the lines of them being Christian folks concede that they are, stammer a bit, and insist that it shouldn't be an issue. I mean, if one's taking guitar lessons or foreign language lessons it shouldn't impact anything, right?

So...it's ok if you're their flavor of Christian to insist that others have to play by your rules or you're going to pack up your toys and go home, but not for anyone else?

*sigh* Fine. I get it. I'll skip mentioning anything, but it still makes me just the tiniest bit sad and it doesn't feel "inclusive" to me. Suggestions? Should I continue on and try my best to continue avoiding the Christian type discussions? Should I hang it out and hope that along with my friend it might possibly help with the silent folks like me that might be hiding there? My other option is to travel 40 minutes the opposite way where I could more reasonably expect to find like-minded folks, but then there's all that driving.

Firefly_Mom
09-23-2010, 02:20 AM
I'm not sure where you live, or how big your town is, but my guess is that there are others that are like you - keeping their heads down and their mouths shut for fear of being "found out." LOL If you are comfortable with it, I would definitely start my own secular group. You can still continue to participate in the one you belong to - for the time being, anyway - but you may be surprised at the other families who are looking for the same inclusive environment. Just be aware that it may take a few months for the word to get out and for people to find you. In the mean time, you and your friend (and any others who choose to join) can go on some field trips, have single-serving classes, etc. I've found that it's best to keep the activities going, even if there are only a few families involved. That way the momentum is already going when others begin to join in. Good luck!

Kylie
09-23-2010, 03:42 AM
I agree, just maybe start up the science class you were talking about and see where it takes you. :0)

Ed Ditto
09-23-2010, 09:37 AM
I took the exact opposite approach, and so far it seems to be working. During the first meeting with our inclusive Christian group we were asked to introduce ourselves. I did. The last thing I said was "Now…I know this is a faith-based group, but my family's not particularly religious, and if that's a problem for anyone here, please tell us now." They looked around at each other and a couple of them gulped, but the only thing anyone said was "Yes, we welcome everybody."

So now anytime there's a question of tolerance or inclusion, I remind them of that. It's already gotten me a revision to the "statement of faith" they were trying to make everyone sign as a condition of membership -- the SOF got dumbed-down from "I agree to abide by the following…" to "I agree to respect the following…"

I have no problem respecting someone's faith or lack thereof, as long as that respect is reciprocated.

hockeymom
09-23-2010, 10:39 AM
Good for you Ed! :)

It's hard to do once you've been in the situation for awhile though. I guess the solution depends on how comfortable you are with letting these people out of your life if need be.

dbmamaz
09-23-2010, 11:07 AM
I have to say, I dont think I would stay in a group if I wasnt allowed to be clear about who I am. I almost wonder if your freind is actually afraid it would reflect badly on HER. So if you are considering leaving the group anyways, why not just go ahead and mention it - and if you get totally ostracised and worse, you know leaving was the right decision, and if you get suprised by people who are interested in the science group, you've won!

mamaraby
09-24-2010, 04:37 PM
I appreciate all of the replies. I'm thankful that while they aren't as "inclusive" as I might hope they are overtly Christian and the group doesn't have an accompanying doctrinal statement. It's not all that much, I know, but it's at least something.

Being an introvert by nature I'm a bit hesitant on this whole issue - the potential for conflict is a bit uncomfortable for me. It bothers me that even though the group is specifically "inclusive" the assumption is that you are just like them. It's awkward and I suppose if I was more up front then perhaps some degree of awkwardness wouldn't exist. On the other hand, even though our city is fairly large, both our city and our county is *extremely* conservative. We didn't necessarily realize this when we moved here, but our first trip to the county fair with it's Christian booths far outnumbering any of the other booths there was our first clue. My understanding of the group was that it was once more inclusive/diverse and if I had been around then our family would have fit in more. My friend always finishes everything out by saying that she once knew some families we would really get along with, but that she's lost contact with them/doesn't know if they're around.

hockeymom - I suppose that really is my issue. As much as I'd like to be ok with being "shunned" as it were - our city is small enough that we will still encounter these people *everywhere*. I worry that it might be lonely or awkward for my son when he goes to gym class.

Firefly_Mom - I'm fairly certain there are others in our area and that they are being quiet about the whole thing. Too bad there isn't some sort of secret handshake to make it all a bit easier!

We're going to a class for homeschoolers at a local nature center about 40 minutes from where we live next week. It's definitely secular and it's a far more diverse area. Maybe we'll connect with some others there.

hockeymom
09-27-2010, 04:23 PM
I hope it all works out for you and that you find people you can really connect with. I've had to let some otherwise good friends go because of their inability to not try to convert me all the time. It was scary at first to stand up for myself, but I quickly realized how much less stress I had once I let the friendships go. They were neighbors, our kids did playgroup together and we had a lot of neighborhood parties together, so I definitely understand how difficult it is when you are going to continue to see someone all the time. But honestly, being forthright about who I am was so empowering and made an enormous impact on my own self esteem. Wishing you all the best! And keep us up to date! :)

InstinctiveMom
09-28-2010, 10:52 AM
I'm not sure where you live, or how big your town is, but my guess is that there are others that are like you - keeping their heads down and their mouths shut for fear of being "found out." LOL If you are comfortable with it, I would definitely start my own secular group. You can still continue to participate in the one you belong to - for the time being, anyway - but you may be surprised at the other families who are looking for the same inclusive environment. Just be aware that it may take a few months for the word to get out and for people to find you. In the mean time, you and your friend (and any others who choose to join) can go on some field trips, have single-serving classes, etc. I've found that it's best to keep the activities going, even if there are only a few families involved. That way the momentum is already going when others begin to join in. Good luck!

Yes, this!!


I took the exact opposite approach, and so far it seems to be working. During the first meeting with our inclusive Christian group we were asked to introduce ourselves. I did. The last thing I said was "Now…I know this is a faith-based group, but my family's not particularly religious, and if that's a problem for anyone here, please tell us now." They looked around at each other and a couple of them gulped, but the only thing anyone said was "Yes, we welcome everybody."
So now anytime there's a question of tolerance or inclusion, I remind them of that. <snip>
I have no problem respecting someone's faith or lack thereof, as long as that respect is reciprocated.

Go, Ed!! That's awesome. What a great way to handle that :)


I appreciate all of the replies. I'm thankful that while they aren't as "inclusive" as I might hope they are overtly Christian and the group doesn't have an accompanying doctrinal statement. It's not all that much, I know, but it's at least something.

Do they bill themselves as 'inclusive'? If so and they're not, you could always ask your friend about amending the group's advertising. If they're advertising that they're inclusive, but making non-Christians feel excluded, you might mention that to you friend as well. As the group leader, she should be conscious of her group's image. You can do that in a round-about way - perhaps a critique of her group's welcome letter or an account of the previous meeting's minutes? and bring up points that are of concern to you or that might be of concern to non religious folk.



We're going to a class for homeschoolers at a local nature center about 40 minutes from where we live next week. It's definitely secular and it's a far more diverse area. Maybe we'll connect with some others there.

I hope so!! :)
Best of luck!!
~h

dbmamaz
09-28-2010, 11:01 AM
Just wanted to point out that I"m starting to get this same sinking feeling in the homeschool martail arts class we just started. My older two went to aftercare here years ago, its not the school. But one of the kids (the one closest to my teen's age, who my teen wanted to hang out with) was wearing a shirt with a bible quote on it. Another mom told me she's getting a grad degree from Liberty U, and mentioned that they do bible and math before the martail arts class. The mom who organized it hasnt done anything to indicate she's a religious homeschooler, and in fact, her youngest was working on a spiderman math workbook, and another kid on something generic-looking for 3rd grade language arts, but i think she's a cheerleader, which makes me just as uncomfortable! (she is 5'10" i think, long blonde hair, makeup, looks almost swedish, and constantly looks me in the eye and says, good job Cara, you're really getting it! - ok, she also is a blue belt already).

I need more athiest dorks!! I do have one athiest dork freind, but he lives on the opposite side of town and keeps threatening to put his son back in school if the district can find a good placement for a gifted child with visual disabilities and sensory and socail issues.

Rebecca in Texas
09-28-2010, 04:50 PM
It's so unfortunate that we all just don't live in the same town! People really shouldn't have to feel this way, and it's really quite ridiculous if you think about it.

archibael
09-28-2010, 07:02 PM
This is the power of the internet. Yes, we're not physically present (which is admittedly The Suck), but think how much worse and alone it would be if we couldn't communicate via this Forum!

Rebecca in Texas
09-29-2010, 01:49 AM
Yes, thank goodness for this forum! Probably the first place I've ever found where other people think like me or are even MORE liberal than me. I'm always the most liberal person everywhere I am!

Kylie
09-29-2010, 03:42 AM
Absolutely......but we all need real life connections sometimes too.....when are we having our first International Secular Home Schoolers Conference???!!!!!

mamaraby
09-30-2010, 02:29 AM
See, and I'm almost thinking it would be easier if I were an atheist. I'd much rather not get into it with them about why I used to think somewhat similar to what they do...but don't. I'd rather not get into why I'm something like an apostate or a false teacher or leading people astray. I know what they'll say and how they'll say it because I would have said it myself which is what makes it even more uncomfortable.

I wish there were more folks near by - the kind who have their own beliefs and respect that you have yours and that none of this precludes us associating with one another. Mostly I just wished they stopped assuming that we were all the same. Another reason I should be more upfront about the fact that we aren't just like them. Seriously..."inclusive" should mean exactly what it means - plain and simple like.

Wilma
09-30-2010, 06:55 PM
There are people out there who feel this way. Trust me. I ran into someone today who was talking about how difficult it is to homeschool here. They are afraid to out themselves. This woman and I were dancing around the subject because we didn't want to say the wrong thing. But somehow we were able to get out our feelings on statements of faith, book censoring, curriculum and all the other stuff. For me, it is harder to be blunt when I know it could negatively impact my kids (my dd and her dd get along great.) I think I have killed some potentially good friendships because I couldn't stand the crap from the parents. A lot of these weirdos actually have nice kids.

jettyspagetti
10-03-2010, 11:55 AM
Mamaraby- I bet there are some more open minded people in your area. I was in a similar situation last year, but don't have the patience for dealing with closeminded peeps. I thought my only option was to drive an hour to our closest big city- we even tried one of the big city groups for year end testing last year. It was held in a church and it became pretty obvious that they were mostly members at the church and there was a big group prayer before testing began which I thought was a bit innappropriate for a mixed group so I marked them off my list of potential groups.

After finding this forum, I was lucky enough to find Elkhollow on here and we've started an incusive secular group in our area. The first two tries at getting people together were complete busts but we just had our first successful field trip and had 6 families meet up. I'd say I'm a bit more on the extroverted, outspoken end of the spectrum so starting a group isn't a problem for me, but if you aren't comfortable with starting a group you can always try talking to the children's librarian at your local library (the usually know the area homeschoolers since we take advantage of the free time during the days) or see if your area has a local Unitarian church or secular humanist group-you may be able to find other homeschoolers who really are open minded and inclusive!