The homeschooled generation that many in society has labeled unprepared to face the world, anti-social, shy, and awkward, are rising up to battle the greatest injustice our country has ever faced. Well-spoken, passionate, confident, and ready to change the world, these homeschooled teens are calling on their friends, politicians, and fellow citizens to face the reality of abortion and to join them in stopping it.
They credit homeschooling for giving them the firm foundation and values that led them to take their unapologetically pro-life stance. Devorah Gilman, a 22-year old homeschool graduate now working full-time for the Canadian Centre for Bio-ethical Reform, an anti-abortion organization that uses graphic images to expose the truth about abortion, says that homeschooling “taught me how to think (and) ask good questions,” a skill that is necessary in both approaching the issue of abortion and in doing her job.
Elise Dupuis from Belle River, Ont., who just completed the tenth grade through homeschooling, told The Interim that the pro-life perspective in her curriculum helped her develop a greater respect for life which led her to become more involved.
Besides receiving a well-grounded education, homeschooled students are taught the values of compassion and kindness in the family – and acceptance towards those who feel unwanted, says Dianne Poisson, mother to Dupuis and her four siblings. Making those who are difficult or unwanted feel loved is perhaps the most important factor in helping people realize the dignity and beauty of life. “It’s so helpful to teach them that the world is a better place if’they show love to all they meet, especially those hardest to love – because they are most often the ones most in need of (it),” Poisson told The Interim.
For many teens, the feeling of a lack of support and lack of fellow young activists prevents them from fully engaging in pro-life activism. Sarah Blake, a 17-year old Toronto homeschooled high school graduate, admits this to be true, but has a strategy to solve the problem. Inspired by Toronto Right to Life and in connection with Student Life Link, she is co-founding a national homeschool pro-life club. Her goal is to create an online network that will connect homeschooled teenagers across the country, and offer them creative ideas and support to help them become involved in the pro-life movement.
“It’s a way to build an army of homeschool pro-life warriors by connecting them, and giving them an opportunity to educate themselves and even challenge each other, keeping each other motivated,” she told The Interim. “Even if you have a homeschool community, (this club) is a way to stop isolation,” and help homeschooled teenagers “feel like they have an impact.”
For Blake, the homeschool pro-life club is not her only form of contributing to the movement, though she says it’s the biggest. At the age of 16, she was invited to join the board of directors for Toronto Right to Life, and since then she has written articles, helped organize the annual Respect for Life Student Leadership Conference (which attracted over two hundred students this year) and worked on numerous other projects.
But different people have different callings to pro-life activism. Dupuis uses her creativity in her pro-life activism. She has helped organize a local pro-life youth conference and used her art skills to creatively plan and decorate the event. Sometimes it’s the simple things. While campaigning for Motion 312, and in true resonance with the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words,” she made a drawing of a young child, with a request to support the motion, which she then mailed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. She has also encouraged her friends to become involved, inviting them to local pro-life events, and collecting petition signatures. She and her homeschooled friends held a letter-writing party last year to ask the Prime Minister and MPs to support M-312, a motion calling on Parliament to examine evidence about when human life begins. They were responsible for writing and mailing over a 100 letters.
Gilman says that as a high-schooler, she got involved “with every opportunity that came my way, educating myself online, marching, (doing) anything and everything.” Wanting to dedicate her life to the cause, she became a full-time activist.
Another homeschooler turned full-time pro-life activist is Lila Rose, founder and president of Live Action, an American new media movement that aims to expose abortion through various methods, particularly through undercover investigative videos of abortion facilities. She was homeschooled through high school, and founded Live Action at the age of 15. As part of her homeschool education, she practiced speech and debate, which she says were “very helpful in making an impact and reaching people with the message of life.”
Homeschooled teenagers are no strangers to the challenges that arise in doing pro-life activism.
Blake says that one of the biggest obstacles is keeping the pro-life movement a priority in the midst of a busy schedule, especially when the “little things pile up.” But she says God has cleared her schedule at times when she didn’t think she could handle it all. “Never think you’re too busy or just one person. Always persevere.” She adds that one of the greatest benefits of being homeschooled while being a pro-life activist was her flexible schedule that enabled her to do activism during the day. Gilman adds that it was particularly useful when doing Choice Chain, a CCBR initiative showing graphic images of aborted babies outside high schools during the school day; she was even able to bring her homeschooled siblings along.
Dupuis and Gilman find that the greatest challenge is going out of their comfort zone. Gilman recounts being shy while in high school, but deciding to meet with her pro-abortion MP one day. “Talking to my MP was not something I was comfortable with but I did it for the babies,” she explains. Gilman encourages others to keep motivating themselves by thinking that they will never have to go through the suffering that the babies go through.
Dupuis says that her fear of people getting angry sometimes causes her to hold back. But she overcomes this setback, and reminds others that “if pro-life activism puts you out of your comfort zone, let it comfort you that you’re saving lives.”
The girls suggest that the most important thing is to keep educating oneself and finding out more about the issues. “Re-motivate yourself, read articles, watch pro-life debates on Youtube,” Blake advises. Gilman adds that attending or organizing local pro-life events is always a good step. She encourages all other teens to overcome whatever may be holding them back from getting involved in pro-life activism. “The lives of children are worth it and they need someone like you.”
Lexi Jezierski was a summer student at The Interim, organizer of Letter for Life, and a co-founder of the homeschooling pro-life network discussed in this story.