Michelle Duggar’s anti-trans* robocalls and #DuggarHypocrisy

I haven’t really written about the Duggar family before because I feel for their kids still at home. They had no say about being thrust into the national spotlight, and invariably criticism of Jim Bob and Michelle turns into snark about the kids, and I don’t want that. Before I go any farther, let me say that any attacks on the Duggar children in the comments will be deleted. They didn’t ask for this, and with the exception of Josh, who has chosen to become a professional activist with hate group FRC Action, they need to be off limits. That aside, the reason I’ve broken my self-imposed “No Duggars” rule is because of Michelle Duggar’s robocalls against Fayetteville, AR’s proposed LGBT non-discrimination ordinance. I’ve embedded the audio Jeremy Hooper provided on GoodAsYou after the cut. Be warned, it’s a rather disturbing anti-trans diatribe about how transwomen are men who are trying to be predatory towards women and children. In response to this virulent attack on trans* people and their identities, a group of former homeschool kids has created the hashtag #DuggarHypocrisy.  Here’s why. While Michelle Duggar pretends to be concerned about sexual predators targeting women and children, Michelle and Jim Bob have remained silent as both Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips’ sexually predatory behavior was exposed. Shaney Lee has detailed the Duggar’s ties to Bill Gothard and their promotion of Gothard’s material, it’s an important read. Micah Murray’s post on the Duggars and Gothard is also more than sufficient to demonstrate the close ties the Duggars have with Gothard. As for the Duggars and Doug Phillips, in 2010, Michelle received the “Mother of the Year“ award from Doug Phillps. As documented by the Christian Post, before Vision Forum went under they sold DVD’s such as “Tea with Michelle Duggar,” a Vision Forum-produced video[…]

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Ding dong, Vision Forum Ministries is dead (But Vision Forum, Inc. is still raking in the cash)

Vision Forum Ministries announced today that they are closing up shop entirely. Whatever Doug Phillips did, it had to have been something so bad that the board decided the best course was to shut down the whole thing, turn off the lights and go home. Closing a ministry entirely when it’s not named after the person who sinned is unprecedented in Christian circles, I can’t remember a time that something quite like this happened. Here’s the statement. The Closing of Vision Forum Ministries In light of the serious sins which have resulted in Doug Phillips’s resignation from Vision Forum Ministries, the Board of Directors has determined that it is in the best interests of all involved to discontinue operations. We have stopped receiving donations, and are working through the logistical matters associated with the closing of the ministry. While we believe as strongly as ever in the message of the ministry to the Christian family, we are grieved to find it necessary to make this decision. We believe this to be the best option for the healing of all involved and the only course of action under the circumstances. In some ways, this is the end of an era. Doug Phillips and Vision Forum did much damage to countless people who bought into the oppressive and spiritually abusive system he and his followers taught. He sold an image of a perfect family that not even he could match up to. I say that “in some ways” it’s the end of an era, but the for-profit Vision Forum, Inc. is still operating, still selling that rotten and oppressive bill of goods to families. Doug Phillips is still making money off of this abusive system.  Until Vision Forum, Inc. closes up shop too and no more families and children are hurt by[…]

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How bad homeschool research and statistics hurt homeschoolers

When I was in college, I was one of the participants who answered the NHERI/HSLDA/Brian Ray survey of homeschooling graduates. I don’t remember how I got the survey, probably via email forward from my mom, but what I do remember is sending an email to my family after taking it in which I said something about how I wouldn’t believe a thing from the eventual study results. Aside from the fact that an email forwarded among homeschool groups asking people to take an internet survey is a lousy way of getting a representative sample (especially when we’re talking more than a decade ago, when we were nowhere as close to ubiquitous computing as we are now and computer access was still largely along socioeconomic lines), the survey itself was rife with methodological problems. My memory is of a survey where I could tell exactly what answer they were looking to find, based on both the questions asked and the possible answers given for those questions. It was a survey that, even as a college student who had a positive experience and didn’t have the criticisms of the system that I do now, was so bad that I wondered why anyone would design it the way they did unless the goal was not usable data but a certain set of predetermined results. If I got anything out of being homeschooled for twelve years by a math teacher, it’s a healthy appreciation for numbers. Numbers explain the world, or at least they can explain the world if they’re used correctly. Without good numbers, you might as well be stumbling around in the dark bumping your shins into the furniture. Bad numbers are even worse than no numbers; they’re like spreading Legos on the carpet while stumbling around in the dark with bare[…]

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Let’s Talk About Tim Tebow for a Minute

I don’t know Tim Tebow, never met the guy, though from what I’ve heard from people who knew him at UF, he’s a genuinely good guy. He’s definitely someone I’d rather have representing the University of Florida than some of the other famous alumni. What I can say for certain though, is that Tim Tebow is no saint. Wait, wait, before you get the angry mob with pitchforks and torches to come after me, hear me out. Tim Tebow is no saint because nobody is. We’re all flawed human beings trying to figure out how to live our lives, and nobody is perfect. Nobody can be perfect. Even if Tebow is the nicest guy to ever walk the planet other than Jesus himself, he’s still not perfect. Perfection is impossible. Not only that, but we don’t all agree on what “perfect" even is. No one can possibly keep everyone happy.  I’ve alluded from time to time about the pressure that comes from being put on a pedestal in the homeschool world. Being a homeschool poster child who everyone in your homeschool community looks up to as an example isn’t exactly what I would call fun. It’s something I hated as a kid, and something that I couldn’t figure out how to escape. I eventually managed to gracefully get down off the pedestal by going away to college and drifting away from the homeschooling world. Even after having been away from that community for as long as I was though, one of the nagging things in the back of my head as I was mentally preparing myself to come out was the knowledge that there was a non-zero chance that as the story made its way through the homeschool grapevine, people would talk about me in hushed tones and wonder what[…]

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Guest Post: Homeschooling’s Unwilling Boosters?

The following is a follow-up to my posts, The One Thing You Should Never Ask a Homeschool Kid, and Well, That Was Certainly Not Something I Expected to be Controversial. The author wishes to remain anonymous. *** Kathryn blogged last week about homeschool children who are asked to defend homeschooling to strangers who want to know if they’re well educated and well-adjusted.   What does it look and feel like when our parents and homeschooling community expect us to be apologists for homeschooling? This kind of upbringing can lead to 2 results: You grow haughty about your own superiority and stand at a distance from your peers You don’t learn to be self-reflective, and you end up a crippled version of yourself because you don’t change the things you need to change to become a fully developed adult and. I know this, because I’ve both seen it in others and lived it myself.  As a homeschool student from K-12, I too was asked by many strangers and friends to defend my experience as a homeschooler.  But the same expectation existed within my own community.    My homeschooling experience started in the early days of the homeschooling movement.  I was often asked by my parents to describe the benefits of my homeschooling experience because they were proud of me, but also because homeschooling still required defense in a lot of circles.  At my graduation, the unwritten expectation of my homeschool community was that I would speak about how my experience was superior to that of my peers.  This expectation exists for most homeschool graduations I’ve been to—parents expect their children to stand as apologists for their homeschool experience.  I once attended a graduation where the two speakers talked about the superiority of their educational upbringing—they were confident, articulate, and very convincing.  Except[…]

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Well THAT was certainly not something I expected to be controversial

When I wrote my post The One Thing You Should Never Ask a Homeschool Kid a few weeks ago, it didn’t cross my mind that it might generate controversy. It was basically just a rant about something that’s bugged me since I was really little, and since most homeschoolers I know have complained about random people quizzing them about homeschooling, I didn’t think it would be a big deal. “Don’t put homeschool kids on the spot to defend their education,” pretty simple, right? I figured that maybe a few people would see it and think twice before quizzing the homeschool kids they come across and some kids could be spared the general weird awkwardness of those encounters. So yeah, turns out that I’m a bad judge of what’s controversial. On Tuesday my little rant was crossposted to Homeschoolers Anonymous. I assumed that the most it would get was a few former homeschoolers commiserating about how much we were annoyed by the questions while we were growing up. That’s the response I got when I posted my original blog post to my personal Facebook. It seems, however, that some homeschool parents just really aren’t a fan of people saying anything negative about homeschooling–not even if parents are only mentioned in one line of a post that’s mostly about bad behavior by non-homeschooling adults. In my estimation, there should be nothing about saying that no six year old should be expected to explain homeschooling laws, history, and philosophy to adults that could cause defensiveness on the part of parents. This leads me to ask the following question.  If I, someone who has repeatedly said that I had an overwhelmingly positive homeschooling experience, cannot talk about a negative that is more pet peeve than anything without getting push back from parents, when are homeschoolers[…]

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Guard Your Heart, Part Two

This is part two in a two part series. It was originally written as part of the Homeschoolers Anonymous series, “Homeschoolers Are Out.” In this series: Part One | Part Two ***** Sometimes the hardest person to come out to is yourself. After spending a few years post-college working as a wedding and gift registry consultant (turns out I liked studying computer science a lot more than doing it), I decided a change of course was in order, packed up everything and moved to Vietnam to teach for a year. I had a wonderful time and learned a lot about myself and also learned tons from the very talented and accomplished Vietnamese faculty at the university where I taught. Coming back to the US sent me into a tailspin of reverse culture shock and I spent a long few months feeling like I didn’t know which end was up or what ground was solid. During that time I found myself questioning all sorts of things as I tried to figure out what to do with myself and which direction was forward. It was during that time that I began to realize that it wasn’t just that I had been really good at guarding my heart, and that it wasn’t just that I hadn’t found the right guy, it’s that I never was attracted to guys in the first place. When you’re the model homeschool child, “gay” is something that happens to other people. As a kid it was those people I’d see on TV marching, or who my parents’ religious right friends would rail against, but it’s certainly not the sort of thing that a good little homeschooled church kid would consider to have anything to do with themselves. And it’s most definitely not the sort of thing that even crossed my mind as something to consider as[…]

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Guard Your Heart, Part One

This is part one in a two part series, Part Two is here. It was originally written as part of the Homeschoolers Anonymous series, “Homeschoolers Are Out.” *** It turns out that it’s easy to guard your heart when you’re not attracted to someone, but I’m getting ahead of myself here. To begin this story, we need to go back in time, back to when I was a homeschool kid growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Despite my parents running the private school for homeschoolers, and my mom finding herself spending far more time on the phone giving advice to new homeschoolers than she would have liked, and that one time that they wound up helping to put together a state-wide homeschool convention (something they vowed never to do again), my family wasn’t nearly as connected to the homeschooling subculture as many people. There really wasn’t that much of a homeschooling subculture when my parents started homeschooling, since back in the mid ‘80s there weren’t many homeschoolers.

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The one thing you should never ask a homeschool kid

The local paper does stories on all of the high school graduations, and where the stories for the other school graduations follow the same formula–mention something from the speaker, go with a few quotes from graduates about going out into the world, the homeschool support group graduation story includes quotes from kids talking up homeschooling as a concept. Don’t ask that question of kids. Seriously, just don’t. No kid should be put in the position of defending and explaining their education to adults. Aside from the fact that in 2013 it’s not like homeschooling is something nobody’s heard of, that’s just not something you should put on a kid. It’s too much pressure and it makes the kid feel even more like an outsider, an “other,” and not part of mainstream culture. Even if a kid had an absolutely wonderful experience, homeschool apologetic isn’t something a kid should be expected to do. Parents, don’t ask this of your kids. Random strangers, don’t put a kid on the spot and start asking questions. It’s not fair to the kid. I had to put up with random strangers asking me questions about homeschooling since I was six. Six. Let that sink in for a second. How in the world would anyone think that’s remotely something that you should put on a six year old? I can’t even count how many times I was wandering around the public library minding my own business looking for interesting books when I’d be stopped by a stranger asking me, “why aren’t you in school?” Now, granted, back in the ‘80s, homeschooling was a novelty, but still. It would have been one thing if it had ended with me responding, “I’m homeschooled,” but nope, the next question was, “Is it legal?” Seriously, people would ask a little elementary[…]

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Pawns in the culture war

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes – Morpheus, The Matrix In the few days since I wrote my post about what I strongly suspect is HSLDA’s litigation strategy to make homeschooling a fundamental right with no restrictions, not even for abusers, people have been doing some digging and have found information that quite frankly, is incredibly disturbing. In a nutshell, in 2009 an all male group of homeschool leaders met for a summit at one of Bill Gothard’s ATI training centers to discuss the future of homeschooling. Included among the big names present were Doug Phillips of Vision Forum (and former HSLDA attorney), Brian Ray of NHERI, and Christopher Klicka of HSLDA. Among the topics discussed was a call to abolish child protective services and plans were outlined about how they would go about instituting a Christian theocracy with homeschoolers paving the way. Heather at Becoming Worldly and R.L. Stollar at Homeschooler’s Anonymous both have extremely long and extremely informative posts laying out what exactly happened at the summit, I think it’s important to go read both posts. While I’ve long suspected that there was an agenda based on the bits and pieces of memories I have from things I read and heard from various homeschooling leaders over the years, seeing the road map laid out was chilling. I’ve snarked about the irony of HSLDA setting me on the path to where I am today by getting me interested in law, I’ve imagined how different my life would have been if I’d been accepted to[…]

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