Homeschoolers Anonymous

Ken Cuccinelli, HSLDA, and Identification Abuse

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is a homeschooling father and long-time political favorite of homeschooling leaders.

He has keynoted for Generation Joshua, HSLDA’s youth mobilization organization. And to return the favor, 200 Generation Joshua participants — funded by HSLDA’s political action committee — launched “an early deployment to work with the Cuccinelli campaign [for the Virginia Governorship]” in 2013. This deployment was codenamed “Operation: Shock and Awe” and paired with a Mission Impossible-themed video:

HSLDA’s support of Cuccinelli has a long history. In 2002, HSLDA founder Michael Farris officially endorsed his campaign for the Virginia State Senate. Farris declared that, “I fully endorse Ken and hope that those who believe that standing for principle is the only practical way to preserve our Republic will support him enthusiastically.” In 2012, Farris’s Patrick Henry College invited Cuccinelli to deliver the commencement address.

It is curious to note, therefore, that HSLDA favorite Ken Cuccinelli has publicly spoken out in favor of denying children identification documents.

The recent situation with homeschool alumna Alecia Pennington, who has struggled to prove her American identity and citizenship because of identification abuse, highlights just how problematic such a position is. But as recently as 2010, Cuccinelli gave a speech saying he was considering not getting his newest child a Social Security card because the government uses such cards to “to track you.” He also claimed this was becoming a more popular decision.

You can watch the video below:

Text of the video is:

We’re gonna have our 7th child on Monday, if he’s not born before. And, for the very concerns you state, we’re actually considering – as I’m sure many of you here didn’t get a Social Security number when you were born, they do it now – we’re considering not doing that. And a lot of people are considering that now, because it is being used to track you.

Interestingly, HSLDA recently declared that they would provide assistance to any homeschool alumni who are battling the very situation into which Cuccinelli was considering putting his own son (and encouraging others to put their own children into as well). They also declared they knew of no alumni actually in such situations. In a public statement made on their Facebook page, HSLDA declared the following:

HSLDA Senior Counsel Jim Mason learned of Alecia’s story soon after her video was posted. He contacted her and offered to help. As of this time, Alecia has not taken HSLDA up on the offer. We understand that conflicts between parents and their adult children can be complicated, and that we likely do not know all of the facts in Alecia’s situation. But we do support homeschool graduates’ right to have an identity, get a job, and fully participate in society. In over 30 years of defending homeschoolers, we have never seen allegations like the ones in this situation. We encourage homeschool graduates who encounter problems with documentation, diploma validation issues, or discrimination in employment or postsecondary education to contact us for assistance. We want to help if we can.

As the public cases of Alecia Pennington, Cynthia Jeub, and Eleanor Skelton demonstrate, denying or witholding identification documents from one’s children creates significant problems for homeschool alumni. It is also sadly not uncommon. According to HARO’s 2014 Survey of Adult Alumni of the Modern Christian Homeschool Movement, out of 3703 respondents, 3.65% (or 135 respondents) experienced some form of identification abuse. Numerous testimonies from homeschool alumni denied identification documents can be seen at the Coalition for Responsible Home Education’s website.

According to HARO’s recent 2015 Survey of Identification Abuse Within Homeschooling,

The problem of identification abuse disproportionately impacts individuals who identify as female; this disproportionate impact seems to correlate with families adhering to the ideology of Christian patriarchy, as numerous stories of identification abuse reference gender roles and the stay-at-home-daughter movement. Furthermore, the most common reason for parents withholding an adult child’s identification documents is control: control of the adult child and that adult child’s future decisions.

It is irresponsible of Cuccinelli to put his child in such a situation, and HSLDA — if they are going to live up to their promise to help alumni suffering from identification abuse — needs to publicly condemn such a position. As HARO’s 2015 survey concluded,

Membership in HSLDA does not protect against identification abuse. This should highlight to not only HSLDA as a homeschool movement leader, but also HARO as an advocacy organization as well as all homeschooling communities, that awareness and education about the importance of procuring identification documents for one’s children is vitally important. That importance should be communicated from all levels of homeschooling power structures. Such structures should also encourage families to procure such documentation. The future health and well-being of homeschool alumni depends on it.