We’re Here, We’re Queer (and patriarchy had nothing to do with it)

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Kathryn Brightbill’s blog The Life and Opinions of Kathryn Elizabeth, Person. It was originally published on June 4, 2014.

I’m not sure if two examples counts as a trend, but over the last few weeks both HSLDA founder and Patrick Henry College chancellor Michael Farris and well-known homeschool mommy blogger Karen “that mom” Campbell have both suggested that the blame, as it were, for LGBT homeschoolers lies at the feet of patriarchy.

Under this narrative, patriarchy has so harmed and broken us that we have not only rejected patriarchy itself, but have fallen off into a morass of sin and depravity.

Farris’ version of the story, as given in his May 2014 keynote address at the Florida Parent-Educators Association (FPEA) Leaders Forum, is that homeschool alumni critics of homeschooling are almost all victims of patriarchy, and in rejecting that we’ve also rejected God and some of us have become “open homosexuals.” It’s all very Romans 1 of him.


“But the majority, I think, are walking with God. A significant minority, however, have rejected God entirely. A significant number are way, way out there. And the— and the critics that we’re seeing arise from— in the homeschooling movement from young people who are in their twenties and— twenty— mid-twenties, mostly, is kind of the oldest group— that are loudly criticizing homeschooling on the internet and so on and in other venues— were almost all raised in these kinds of homes. And there is no pretense of Christianity in most of their lives. There are openly homosexuals involved, there are atheists involved, there are people that utterly reject everything that we believe in and make no pretense about it, that are— but they came. And so the idea that people are going to create generational, patriarchal family legacies, and we’re counting for them very well, you’re not seeing that. You erect a false view of God for your children, don’t be surprised if they reject God entirely. That’s what’s going to happen.

So what do we do as a movement? First, I would suggest we run as fast and as far away from patriarchy and legalism as we possibly can.”

Full audio can be found here.

Now, aside from the fact that Farris has painted all former homeschoolers who are critical of the homeschool movement as gaytheists who reject everything they’ve been taught, completely ignoring the significant number of critiques from committed Christians (myself included—”gay” and “Christian” are not mutually exclusive), and ignoring that gaytheists deserve a say too, this is balderdash.

While I will grant him the assertion that creating a hateful, vengeful image of God isn’t exactly conducive to producing children who believe in God, blaming our queerness on patriarchy, or at least the fact that we’re open about it, isn’t going to fly.

For one, patriarchy can’t turn anybody LGBT, sexual orientation and gender identity have zilch to do with the kind of environment you grew up in. What is particularly silly though, is the idea that being raised in an environment of fear, isolation, and repression where the odds are good that you heard at least one person suggesting that people like you should be stoned, somehow makes it more likely that Christian homeschool kids will become, “openly homosexuals.”

Although my own coming out experience was uneventful, at least in part because the days of my family’s dabbling in patriarchy by way of the courtship movement were long since passed, the kids raised in the kind of hardcore patriarchy that Farris condemns go through hell to come out. If only it were so easy as to just rage quit patriarchy and become “openly homosexual” in the process.

And well, I feel for the queer kid whose parents heard that talk and assume that by ditching patriarchy they’ll produce good little heterosexual children. Patriarchy doesn’t make a kid queer, and not following patriarchy doesn’t make a kid straight. The only relation that patriarchy has to sexual orientation or gender identity is to make the life of kids growing up queer a living hell. That’s not going to change in Farris’ ideal world since, as I have already documented, he advocates the same ideas that make life miserable for LGBT kids growing up in patriarchy.

My second data point for this whole patriarchy-turns-kids-gay trend is Karen Campbell’s post last week, “Patriarchy on Trial, part 4.”

I don’t particularly feel like getting into the bit in her post where she conflates Homeschoolers Anonymous/HARO with the organization that I’m part of, the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), suggests that we’re some sort of gay rights advocacy organization (we’re not, and we have a grand total of zero mentions of anything LGBT-related anywhere in our policy positions), and then in the comments implies that our end game is to define being anti-gay as abuse (it’s not, and the idea literally never crossed my mind until she wrote it).

What I would rather talk about is the comment she left on her post, where Campbell suggests that young people raised in patriarchy, “can easily be convinced to experiment with homosexuality.”


Ms. Campbell really doesn’t understand how this whole gay thing works if she thinks that being taught rigid gender roles is going to confuse someone into homosexuality. Also, while we’re at it, bisexuality is a thing too, though I doubt Campbell thinks it exists.

Rigid gender roles are bad, and should be rejected outright, but forcing a kid into a rigid gender role has nothing to do with who they’re attracted to. For that matter, there are kids who fit quite happily into rigidly defined gender roles but are still attracted to the same sex, and kids who don’t fit at all but who are entirely straight.

Homosexuality is about who you’re attracted to, and whether or not a kid fits into a rigid gender role is about gender identity and expression, another issue entirely. For a kid who is gender non-conforming, being forced into a rigid box isn’t going to confuse them into gayness, it’s just going to make their life unpleasant.

Besides, I didn’t grow up forced into rigid gender roles and I’m still queer. In fact, I’d wager that my parents’ version of homeschooling is one that would get the Karen Campbell seal of approval, but hey, here I am and no one convinced me into anything.

Are we so weak that she thinks we can easily be misled into gayness? I graduated from high school at 17, got a degree in computer science as the only female student in all but one class, moved overseas by myself to teach in Asia, and have my JD. That I could “easily be convinced” of anything, much less of something that makes my life harder, is insulting.

There are many things that I will lay at the feet of patriarchy, but nope, you’re not going to be able to write off LGBT homeschoolers this easily. Patriarchy did not make us, this is who we are, and there is nothing wrong with that.

We’re here, we’re queer, patriarchy had nothing to do with it, and it’s high time you get used to it.


  • What is your authority for believing that a given action is or is not moral? I’m leaving the specific homosexuality thing out, this is more intended as a question of personal philosophy.

    • Morality is not an absolute; it’s variable from culture to culture. Every culture has a different view on what is right and wrong; from what is right and decent to eat, to who is best to marry.
      Ethics, on the other hand, are guidelines and rules that are established out of a mindset for protection of vulnerable populations and ensuring fairness.
      You can debate the morality of say, telling young girls that they must dress in conservative dresses and never lead males astray. But that upbringing is unethical because of the demeaning messages it sends to those children.

      • So what is your base authority for right and wrong? What it sounds like you’re saying that if someone wanted to kill you for your lifestyle, there is no way to condemn that, because morality is not an absolute.I thought this was how sociopaths rationalize crime.

      • My authority for right and wrong is determined by judging if my actions cause harm or distress to anybody. Sociopathy is a mental and social condition where they’re not capable of discerning that they are doing this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy
        This doesn’t mean it’s bullet proof; sometimes it gets fuzzy. For instance, in my field it’s a huge ethical debate on whether archaeologists should be able to conduct research on Native American human remains. There’s no moral right or wrong answer; it’s something that needs to be negotiated. And while the ethics of the past justified it in the name of the common scientific human heritage, the ethics of today has declared it unethical to do that research without consulting the most likely candidates for the descendants of those people.

      • But how do you know it’s wrong to cause harm? This philosophy still sounds utterly narcissistic.

      • I know it’s wrong to hurt other people because I don’t like it when people do bad stuff to me. And I don’t see if it’s self-centered if the point is to look out for the welfare of the people around me. If I was just not doing them harm so that they would like me or think I was a good person, then that would be selfish.

      • Wow. You seriously can’t tell when you are harming or wronging other people? Maybe it’s not obvious in some cases, like saying insulting things that you may not realize are hurtful to certain people. But if you can’t see that stealing from someone or cheating on them hurts them, then you really do have issues.

        It’s far from narcissistic, because you need to have some empathy and see things from other people’s point of view. The same way the Platinum Rule is superior to the Golden Rule: treat others like they would want to be treated.

      • Don’t misinterpret Jack, Steve. All he’s fishing for is why people can do good without a Christian morality; I’m just explaining my own views, others will be different. And I would like him to be left with a positive outlook.

  • Wiccan morality is far superior than anything Christianity ever came up with (it didn’t come up with the Golden Rule):
    And if it harms none, do what you will

    Religions is so full of things that are declared a sin that harm absolutely no one. Many of them are even thought crimes. This is especially evident in the area of sexuality. Harm and consent play no role whatsoever in Christian sexual ethics.

    If you can’t see that and need an ancient book to tell you what is right and wrong, you’re the one with issues.

    • Morality needs a floor beneath its feet, otherwise it is nothing more than private taste. You can’t resort to pushing the ethic back to “do no harm”, becausr then that needs justification. You can’t have an infinite regress. Who defines “harm”? If you to to hell when you die, that is self-harming; and then if one denies God’s existence, or deny that God forbid / commands anything, then we must justify that claim, otherwise we are just driving drunk at the metaphysical wheel. If there sre no laws re sex, then perhaps there are no laws requiring authenticity, or forbidding the murder of homosexuals. I question whethet you recognize the Pandora’s box of death that moral relativism is, not to mention how deeply illogical it is…

      • Well, here in the USA we have defined “harm”. Loss of life, grave physical injury, loss of property, invasion of privacy, etc.. Are we morally relative because we assign punishment based on the nature of a crime, its severity, and culpability of the offender? We have our underpinnings, supposedly, on the Bible. All the while people have taken the Bible and used what it says to hurt people, eg slavery. There is wide interpretation on morality, and yes, it often depends on the culture. People form a society and craft laws that the society deems necessary for the common good of that society. Hence, the focus on seeing community as more important than the individual, which we saw in Japan. Who is the arbiter of morality? My God, my neighbor’s Allah, or my colleague’s Buddah? Your question is a good one, but don’t disparage someone and accuse him or her as being relative morally, until you think things through a bit more.

      • Oh, and I’m pretty sure I misspelled Buddah. I think it’s really Buddha. Sorry.

      • What do you suggest for a basis, Jack? Old Testament case laws?

      • I would say that all morality is a religious issue at its core. E.g., is Jesus the Son of God? If he is, then he is the authority. I believe Jesus is the Son of God because he rose from the dead. I oppose sex outside of marriage because Jesus is the Son of God. Since he affirmed everything Moses wrote, then I do as well, since Jesus Christ is the final authority. OTOH, if he is not the Son of God, then he is just another non-authoritative voice. But moral relativism is never a reasonable option for people who want consistency, even if Christianity should turn out to be false. Moral relativism is the very definition of double-standardizing. We condemn drone murders, NSA spying, racism, rape, human trafficking, and Wal-Mart’s abuse of its employees, and we should condemn them. But when we condemn them, we are presupposing that objective moral laws exist. Even the dictum, “Do no harm” is a moral law.  And then we conveniently exempt the specific behavior that we like doing. It’s so convenient, isn’t it? Just like magic, moral law just happens to be relative in the exact area of the thing I like to do, in the area where I don’t want to feel any guilt. It’s so nice and neat and self-serving. What right do we have to say, do no harm? Who are we to force our moral absolute about “doing no harm” onto other people?  That’s just imperialism. Whether you say to someone, “You ought to believe that homosexuality is okay”, or “You should not hurt other people”, the other person has the right to say, “Who do you think you are, to tell me what I can or cannot do?”  And I should be able to give a rational answer, not one that is built around me feeling good and fine about me.   

      • I still go back to the original founding of civilization. Societies codified what worked (and what did not work) for that society. Human survival, I believe, was the original “floor” under which laws eventually wound their way through the centuries of human existence.

      • Oh, and if there is really a hell, and one goes there, it is not self-harming. It’s a monster who sent a person there.

  • actually, male homosexuality is a little more understood in terms of causes than female homosexuality. female sexuality is more fluid, sexual plasticity is the norm for all females while males are generally gender fixed by puberty.
    in other words, there is some genetic component in male homosexuality, currently thought to be about 25% contribution, then environmental causes ie en-utero hormone issues both in the fetus and contributed by the mother, then other as yet unknown environmental determinants, and gender identity and sexual orientation in the male is set by puberty.
    On the other hand. for females less is known. There are plenty of older women who come out as gay after a long marriage, and they don’t claim have always been gay. A female does not necessarily have gender identity and sexual orientation squared away by puberty. Female sexuality is far more plastic and their are perhaps some genes, definitely some en-utero hormone issues, but there is plenty of social influences in the formation of lesbian identified women.
    Please be a little more sure of the science before you post, you are doing an important thing with this website and you don’t want to come off as somewhere between religion and science, you want to be squarely in the science camp when you talk about LGBT issues.

    • I have to point out that Huffington Post is not an academic journal and that scientific study is still catching up on LGBTQIA issues and is impacted by social understandings of human sexuality (such as bisexual invisibility).

      It is laughable that you attempt to correct the author of this piece from a poorly read single article (you stated that there is “some genetic component in male homosexuality” about 25%, when the article you referenced uses the 25% estimate in regards to lesbians) and general ignorance (I am really confused by the statement “males are generally gender-fixed by puberty” both because it is used as parallel to female sexuality and because male is a gender).

      In sum, learn before critiquing a subject.

  • I’m curious about terminology. Is there a difference between being gay and being queer? I’m new to this conversation.

  • Pingback: Homeschooled Kids Matter: A Response to Will Estrada | Homeschoolers Anonymous

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