Purcellville, Virginia is in a tizzy this week. The Loudon Times, New York Magazine and the Washington Post are addressing the question of whether homosexuality exists at the Patrick Henry College. The law of proportions says it’s certainly possible and former PHC students confirm their existence. From the Loudon Times:
Gay students at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville don’t exist. They can’t exist.
So says Dr. Michael Farris, the college’s founder and chancellor.
It’s simple, really. Homosexuals can’t exist at Patrick Henry College because the students sign an honor code, Farris claimed.
“[Homosexuals] could not sign our honor code,” Farris said, adding that he considers the actions of gay men and women “sinful.”
“Part of the honor code is to be sexually pure,” he added.
Even though I’m out on the farm in central Illinois, there is some familiarity with that particular community’s name in northern Virginia. The national and even local media seem drawn to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) based in Purcellville. Oddly, that attraction exists despite many state and local homeschool groups with deep homeschooling wherewithal advocating in our communities. There have been many Home School Legal Defense E-Lerts from the east coast sent to our inboxes concerning various issues. Some HSLDA concerns, such as raising or lowering compulsory attendance ages, daytime curfews, and of course changes to state or federal homeschool law or statutes already have the attention of local homeschooling groups. Sometimes HSLDA positions seem contrary to the local issues.
But many of HSLDA’s worries make our homeschool community squirm. Recently, the chair, Michael Farris, was interviewed by CNN‘s Anderson Cooper regarding the Senate defeat of the UN Treaty for the Rights of the Disabled. It is true many homeschoolers don’t support the treaty’s ratification, even as many other homeschoolers did support it. We are that diverse. But whichever side a homeschooler took, the notion of Michael Farris front and center as our self-proclaimed homeschool representative was difficult for many to watch. In my state, for example, a HSLDA attorney confirmed actual Illinois members were estimated in the 5% range of all Illinois homeschoolers.
Many homeschool advocates discovered this particular and continuous discrepancy too, as pointed out by New York Magazine:
One of the bloggers, who goes by Kate Kane, told Daily Intel this afternoon, “Despite the college’s claims that they foster open dialogue on tough issues, their first response on this has been to attempt to bully and censor us through the misapplication of copyright and trademark laws. We find that incredibly disappointing.”
HSLDA will not post all state and local homeschool organizations on their website. It’s their right, but the view only shows a certain sub-category of homeschoolers, rather than our rich tapestry of families from all walks of life. The HSLDA organization and their various associations don’t actually engage with most of our nation’s homeschoolers.
In this particular blowup, I would say the administrative staff at Patrick Henry College are surely squirming too. In this case, you would think no publicity would have to be better than this sort of publicity.
As for the QueerPHC bloggers, this is what they seek, as reported by Trevor Baratko at Loudon Times:
“I remain hopeful for the possibility of more positive interactions with [administration] in the future,” Scott said. “I look forward to when it is possible to have mature, open, honest and loving conversation about LGBTQ issues at PHC without students or alumni experiencing fear of reprisal, rejection, or shaming.”