“But I think only the Amish are entitled to an opinion about how they live. Just like LGBTQ folk.”

Well, of course. But Torah, the woman I wrote about in this story was not offered as choice about how to live. She was not allowed to go to school. All choice was taken from her without her informed consent. If she hadn’t run away at the age of 15, she’d not have been able to graduate from Columbia and become a writer.

She did not should have had the right to choose how to live. Without a basic education in how the society we live in works, without the educational keys to enter that society, we are relegated to live on the margins. Torah didn’t want to live in the margins. She wanted to be a full citizen, and the Supreme Court has ruled that her parents can take that from her.

Roughly 25% of the Amish where I live end up leaving the Church before they turn 25, the age by which marriage and full church membership is expected.

But because they don’t even have the equivalent of an 8th grade education, they are severely crippled in their ambitions. We live in a society, a culture of people who live together cooperatively, and the way our society has evolved, 12 to 16 years of education (or more) are necessary for full participation.

It’s one thing for informed adults to decide not to participate. It’s something else entirely for parents take away the possibility of meaningful participation from their children.

The kids in my uncle’s church school have real choice.They can decide to stick with the church, go to Bible college and lead the life of fundamentalist Christians, or they can use the education their parents don’t fully believe in and go to university. It’s up to the kids themselves.

The Amish kids around the corner don’t have that choice. They can’t go to university or do much of anything else. They deserve the keys to the kingdom as much as every other kid who lives around here.

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

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