Identification Abuse Bill Inspired by Alecia Pennington Passes Texas House, Goes to Senate

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinato

After fleeing her family last September with the help of her grandparents, Alecia Pennington began speaking up about how her parents are allegedly refusing to help her get documents necessary for operating in society. Alecia created a video that went viral on YouTube with over a million views and launched the now-internationally-reported Help Me Prove It campaign, the Facebook page of which has over 7,000 likes.

According to a recent report by Fox News 7, Alecia continues to fight for her right to get a birth certificate. She obtained legal help through attorney Bill Morris. She also recruited legislative assistance from Texas State Representative Marsha Farney, who has proposed a bill, HB 2794, to help people like Alecia who are American citizens yet lacking necessary documentation. The bill would “allow individuals to petition for a delayed birth certificate in the county where they live, rather than in the county in which they were born. It would also make it a misdemeanor for a parent to refuse to sign an affidavit to help their child obtain a delayed birth certificate.” On Tuesday, May 11, 2015, HB 2794 passed the Texas House of Representatives. Yesterday, Wednesday, May 12, it was sent to the Senate for a vote.

Last February, Alecia reported that her father, James Pennington, was “willing to sign any documents, and give me any information he has concerning what I may need as proof.” However, in the recent Fox News 7 report, James goes on record opposing Representative Farney’s bill, calling it “misguided” and “draconian.” Fortunately, Alecia’s grandmother, Lee Southworth, stands by Alecia. Southworth says that they have put in “thousands of hours” of work thus far attempting to obtain Alecia’s birth certificate.

Alecia’s situation has drawn international attention to a problem that HA’s parent non-profit Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (HARO) has termed identification abuse. Identification abuse is destroying, holding hostage, or denying a child their identification documents: birth certificate, driver’s license, Social Security card, and so forth. Homeschool kids (and alumni) like Alecia are particularly vulnerable to this form of abuse because of certain anti-government and pro-parental rights attitudes in totalistic homeschool subcultures. 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. HARO’s 2015 Survey of Identification Abuse Within Homeschooling also found that 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.

Additional reading:

8 comments

  • Man, who would’ve thought this story would go viral? Hope Alecia gets what she needs.

  • Over on the mom’s Facebook page, around mothers day Lisa still refers to Alecia as having run away. When adult children leave home it is not called running away. There is a somewhat biased article about this bill where the writer also uses the term running away.

  • I’m glad this bill has passed. Does anyone know if Alecia’s parents have finally provided her with the information she needs to go live life on HER terms yet? I hope so, even as I rather doubt it.

    Her parents don’t strike me as nice people, at all.

  • So tragic. I can’t imagine what it must be like to prove your very existence. I am sure that many anti-gov’t parents wouldn’t comply and that they would hold their children hostage to the lifestyle that the parents have chose to live. All these anti-gov’t zealots out there aren’t freeing their children from the constraints of American citizenry. They are imprisoning them on a plot of land. That’s not freedom.

  • Alecia Pennington testified in favor of Texas House Bill 2794 at a Texas Senate committee hearing yesterday (5/22/2015) and the committee unanimously approved forwarding the bill to the full Texas Senate for a vote. This is not a controversial bill and it will certainly pass and go into effect Sept. 1, 2015

    Google “Texas Legislature HB 2794” for further information.

    The bill is titled: Relating to a delayed birth certificate; creating a criminal offense

    The text of the bill can be found here: https://legiscan.com/TX/text/HB2794/id/1159991

    Kudos also to Texas Representatives Marsha Farney (Georgetown, Texas) and Sinfronia Johnson (Houston) for authoring this bill. Rep. Farney has a background in secondary education and she and her staff quickly grasped the situation faced by Alecia and moved forward on it. The timing was fortuitous — the Texas legislature meets only in the spring of alternate years, and was in session this spring. A strong bill had to be quickly introduced to be added to the legislative agenda for this session and they got it done.

    Wishing the best to Alecia going forward. She will be empowered knowing she has already made a big difference in the lives of others in her situation.

  • Have they refused to release her birth record? Can she use an entry in a family Bible, or are they withholding that as well?
    http://www.travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/information/secondary-evidence.html/

  • Pingback: Alecia Pennington, “The Girl Who Doesn’t Exist,” Can Now Prove She Does | Homeschoolers Anonymous

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