So what has changed? This is only from my perspective and from this conversation .... I have no statistics or data to back this up. But what I see has changed is:
When I was a kid being homeschooled, it was still perceived as a really weird, fringe thing to do. When I saw homeschooling represented in the media or discussed in the news, it was always in a negative way or framed as something for super over-achiever kids like Olympic athletes or geniuses.
Now homeschooling seems to be much more accepted as another possible choice ... a minority choice but not just for the super fringe of our society.
And that might have something to do with ...
The homeschooling population is getting more diverse. People are homeschooling for many different reasons, with different philosophies and methods, and in all sorts of communities (rural, military, urban). But there is also increasing racial and religious diversity.
Networking and the Internet
New ways of communicating are making it easier for homeschoolers to find each other, as well. When I was a kid, my parents were part of the state homeschool organization and had some support groups they could be part of, and we did know other homeschoolers ... but only a handful. At one point my parents organized a "science scouts" type of group for about 6 kids. And that was it. It was OK .... I made friends through dance classes or theater productions, so I wasn't completely alone or "unsocialized" (that whole issue is a whole other post!), but I also didn't have a homeschool community.
Now, there are many homeschool communities. We are part of a Meet Up group online that has almost 300 families in it, and they organize all sorts of events, ranging from a casual gathering at a park to a structured workshop or field trip.
My kids are growing up with other homeschoolers, and in a more diverse community than I did. They are being accepted in ways I was not. Things have changed, in a good way.