Almost no one realizes that Amish American children have no rights under the US Constitution if those rights conflict with Amish Church law. Amish who wish to pursue life, liberty, and happiness are often forced to escape and land in a completely foreign world. They are genuine refugees, but without recognition by and aid from the American government and human rights agencies.

At age 15, I had to literally escape in the middle of the night without telling anyone goodbye, just for a chance to go to high school and college. Below is a scene from that night.

(Keep scrolling for the video version of this post.)

My Escape from the Amish at Age 15

Excerpt from my memoir Amish Girl in Manhattan

That night when everyone was sound asleep, I crept down the old house’s creaky stairs—even the mightiness of WD-40 had lost the battle against that ancient staircase—crossed the creaky dining room floor, and slipped through the creaky back kitchen door. During all that time, I did everything I could to restrain myself from making a dash for the door.

Before my exit out the back door, however, I found myself trapped in the kitchen. Fortunately the fridge—we were allowed propane gas fridges—kicked in and covered the noise of the creaky kitchen door, another failed WD-40 job. The only thing I could think of during those last few moments still in the house was that freedom lay on the other side of that door. Only several yards away. All I had to do was just get outside. So close and yet… so. far. away.

My heart thundered. Someone was waiting for me down the road, and no one was going to stop me this time. Even if my father saw me in the kitchen, I’d . . .

. . . make a run for it and make it outside—on the freedom side of the door.

Once my feet finally hit the grass, after creeping through a final last door, the screen door, I felt an uncontrollable hit of adrenaline rush through my blood. I tore across the yard, heading straight for the road. I ran about a quarter mile down the road until I reached the creek where the car had been designated to wait for me.

On the way I stopped only once, for just a second, to look back. I debated whether I wanted to do that. What if I jinx myself if I look? But then I thought, This is a huge moment in my life and I want to take just one more look at the homestead and remember this. My life will never be the same after I get into that car.

I stopped on the concrete road and turned around. Everything was quiet. No movement, no noise, no lights on in the house. Nothing. I was safe.

Did you know that Amish American children are legally prohibited from going to school past the 8th grade?

This is thanks to 1972 US Supreme Court case, Wisconsin v. Yoder. Check out my post about that.
Watch the Video

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To education,
Torah
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