By Hilary White

November 20, 2008 ( – A Family Court judge in Germany has ruled that the children of a homeschooling family should be returned to the parental home on the condition that their school-aged children be enrolled in a state-approved school and the three-year-old in a “playgroup” for “socialization outside the family.” The Homeschool Legal Defence Association (HSLDA) reports that the decision of the judge was handed down against the recommendations of state officials who wanted to “keep an eye” on the family.

The Gorber children had been removed from the family home in January by officials of the Jugendamt, the German Youth Welfare Authority, because the family was homeschooling, a crime that has remained on the books in Germany since the Nazi period.

The HSLDA notes, “Homeschooling parents in Germany face these types of repercussions on a regular basis.” The Gorbers have homeschooled all of their children over the past 15 years. In January, youth welfare officers arrived at the Gorbers’ home in cars and vans to take all the minor children without any notice or hearing. The children were placed in state orphanages until August, when a court allowed a home visit.

In court, when the Jugendamt officials asked the judge for permission to “stay involved to check up on the family,” Mrs. Gorber responded, “Look at the children. If the so-called isolation and relationships ‘only in the family’ is so bad, can you please explain to me, how, after 10 years of homeschooling, they have turned out so well?”

“They are academically on par at their [new] schools. Their teachers are all satisfied with them, and some are even pleased with their work, wishing they had more students like them. Our children have no problems with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or other addictions which we see with so many children these days. So what do you want to control our kids for?”

The HSLDA reports that the judge expressed his own surprise that the children were doing far better academically and socially than he expected.

Peter Briody, an advocate for the Gorbers, said that their morale had been “significantly boosted” by supportive letters coming from around the world.

“This gradually alleviated the family’s feeling of isolation and suffering and helped to change the climate of the case, putting the Jugendamt on the defensive,” Briody said.

German law requires all children to be placed in state approved schools, a requirement that has resulted in numerous cases of homeschooling children being removed by the state from parental care. In the majority of cases, such families are devout Christians who want a less heavily secularised education for their children, one that does not include the explicit and anti-family state-approved “sex-education.”

In a landmark legal case, started in 2003 at the European Court of Human Rights, a homeschooling parent couple argued on behalf of their children that Germany’s compulsory school attendance endangered their children’s religious upbringing. They said specifically that the state-approved sex education clashed with their children’s right, according to the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, that “the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.”

Three years later, the European Court of Human Rights upheld the German ban on homeschooling, stating “parents may not refuse …[compulsory schooling] on the basis of their convictions.”

Read related coverage:

Homeschooling Missionary Family Narrowly Avoids German Deportation for Now

German Authorities Decree Ceasefire in Homeschooler Case – For Now

Three More Families Appeal for Help as Germany Continues Crackdown on Homeschooling Families

German Court Places Custody of Yet another 5 Homeschooling Children with Government’s Youth Office