Bryce Mitchell at UFC Night weigh-in in October 2020
(Handout / Getty)

UFC Fighter’s Remarks Highlight the Dire Need for Homeschooling Regulations

UFC fighter Bryce Mitchell recently went viral after stating that he feared public school would turn his son gay. The most concerning aspect of his rant is that a lack of homeschooling regulations means parents like him can homeschool their children without any oversight.

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Mitchell is a mixed martial artist who competes in the featherweight division in the UFC. However, recently, he garnered attention for a number of hateful and concerning remarks he made in a video posted to Instagram. He is holding his infant son in the video and starts out providing an update on his son’s weight and health. Things quickly turn south when he suddenly tells his followers not to vaccinate their children because it “can kill them or make them autistic.” According to him, “vaccines are poisonous.”

The topic then changes to homeschooling, with Mitchell stating, “We’re going to have to homeschool all our kids, or they’re all going to end up turning gay. That’s the reason I’m going to homeschool Tucker because I don’t want him to be a communist. I don’t want him to worship Satan. I don’t want him to be gay.” He then rants about how public schools took the Bible out of their curriculums. He states, “They took it [the Bible] out of the schools and replaced it with Edgar Allan Poe, who shacked up with his cousin. My son ain’t going to be reading no Edgar Allan Poe, OK? He’s going to be reading the Bible.”

In addition to being anti-vax and revealing he refused to so much as allow doctors to conduct a PKU blood test on his child, Mitchell has also stated he believes the world is flat and that there is no gravity. The scariest part of his comments is that Mitchell will be permitted to homeschool his son and teach him these views if he wishes.

There’s a dangerous lack of regulation in homeschooling

Homeschooling is an important option for parents and children, who have the right to choose whatever education format that works best for them and their lifestyle. However, most would be shocked to realize how little oversight there is on homeschooling. Someone like Mitchell can simply cite “religious beliefs” as their reason for homeschooling and be permitted to do so, no questions asked, no qualifications required.

They don’t have to explain why public school isn’t suited for their beliefs, even though the actual reasoning may be that they don’t want their kids to turn into “gay communists,” and one should question if that’s really a valid reason to homeschool a child. In 11 states in America, parents don’t even have to notify the state or school district of their intention to homeschool. Their children can be abruptly pulled out of school or never show up to school in the first place, with no questions raised, which is very scary. After all, nearly all of the worst child abuse cases in recent times, such as the Turpin family or Ruby Franke cases, occurred in homes where the parents were able to hide their abuse under the guise of homeschooling. Still, homeschooling continues to be unregulated.

In the vast majority of states, parents aren’t asked to provide a curriculum or proof of their child’s education, and homeschooled children are exempt from mandatory state testing. Parents like Mitchell are given complete freedom to teach their children that the earth is flat, feed them conspiracy theories about vaccines, or have their sole textbook be the Bible. Meanwhile, many parents also use homeschooling to avoid vaccination requirements or physical examinations. In her memoir Educated, Tara Westover revealed how her parents’ distrust of healthcare was so severe they wouldn’t even get their children or each other medical treatment for injuries sustained in a car crash. Few seem to understand that homeschool parents don’t just have unrestricted control of their children’s education but also of their health and well-being.

I was homeschooled until ninth grade while growing up in a Christian conservative family, and I frequently look back on the experience with surprise that no one ever checked up on me or my five siblings. Since we lived in Wisconsin, my parents did have to report their intent to homeschool. So they told state officials that they had six children in their home being homeschooled but were not required to prove that we were actually homeschooled. They didn’t have to give school officials detailed reasoning for their choice or a curriculum. Given that no one ever checked up on anything my parents reported or did, I often find myself wondering, how did those state officials even know all six of us were accounted for and definitely receiving an education in that home when no one even physically saw us?

State and school officials never once thought to ensure we were getting an education or even that we were alive and well. Meanwhile, reform and regulation are difficult when parents like Mitchell can cite parental rights and their right to teach and raise their children how they wish.

It’s strange that no matter how many abuse cases tied to homeschooling or how many stories like Westover’s and the Duggars’ arise, no one ever bothers to talk about children’s rights. Someday, when he’s old enough, Mitchell’s son should have a say in what kind of education he wants and suits his needs best. Yet, under the current system, children are given no say, and state and school officials give no weight to what’s best for the child—they solely rely on what the parent decides. Many children are automatically stuck receiving questionable homeschooling for their entire childhood for no other reason than that their bigoted parents think they’ll turn gay if they get an actual education.


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.