In Response to HARO

Some of you may have noticed a change in my advocacy focus over the past year and a half, or the fact that I have less actively blogged—especially so when it comes to homeschoolers. I also have not addressed claims that the reason I’m no longer engaged in homeschool advocacy is a scandal that showed I was actually a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

It has been pointed out to me that by not making a statement I communicated that I was simply ignoring all this, and I take that point to heart. I am sorry for my silence. I was scared, to be honest—scared of your judgment, scared of losing even more friends, scared of being blacklisted for the rest of my life if I draw attention to the situation (Streisand effect and all). But recently people bravely challenged my silence, so it is time to be brave myself, too.

On February 22, 2017, the HARO board published a statement announcing my departure from the organization. The HARO board claimed they discovered that several hundred dollars “was stolen from HARO funds” by me over several weeks, and that they had considered pursuing charges. They stated that, upon this discovery, they promptly removed me from the board and revoked my access to all HARO accounts.

The problem is that this statement is built on half-truths and a refusal to acknowledge the realities of mental health symptoms. I was not involved in a scheme to harm or defraud HARO. I was neither discovered nor involuntarily removed from the board. Rather, I told the board what happened, resigned, and transferred accounts out of my name.

This is what happened: I was in a full-time mental health treatment program after my lifelong symptoms had been progressively escalating (and the board was aware of this). While manic, I unintentionally spent hundreds of dollars of my wife’s and HARO’s. That much is true and I fully acknowledge that.

It is important that I take responsibility for the effects of my actions, even if I would have acted differently if my brain was working properly. The context, though, is important, too. I was manic; I was not maliciously stealing money from either my wife or HARO. When I realized what I did and my doctor gave me medication to help me stabilize, I told the board, resigned, and returned the money. I have exhausted all avenues of communication with the board to get them to right the facts in their statement, but they have so far refused.

I am heartbroken and gutted over what happened, but I refuse to go down as a thief. I co-founded both HA and HARO. I put my life and heart and soul into those organizations since 2013, never drawing a salary or stipend. I wouldn’t throw that away for a few hundred dollars. In fact, I told the board several weeks before all of this happened that I wanted to resign for mental health reasons, and the board ignored my request.

For the last several years I have been investing significantly in my current and future stability. I have been in full time mental health treatment programs, group therapy, and individual therapy to help me understand and manage my newly diagnosed bipolar disorder. I have not consumed alcohol in over a year. I am developing healthy coping mechanisms for my depression and suicidal ideation and receiving more effective treatments. 

I know I caused significant pain to many people because of my actions, and I am so very sorry for that. I also apologize again for not making a statement sooner.


Ryan Stollar

Published by R.L. Stollar

R.L. Stollar is a child liberation theologian and an advocate for children and abuse survivors. The author of an upcoming book on child liberation theology, The Kingdom of Children, Ryan has an M.H.S. in Child Protection from Nova Southeastern University and an M.A. in Eastern Classics from St. John’s College.

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