By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator
On Monday, one of the stories we received for our “Homeschoolers U” series about Patrick Henry College experiences mentioned a curious anecdote. The anecdote involved a PHC freshman who believed soy products make people gay. Here’s the story according to Lillia Munsell:
Midway through my first semester, a fellow freshman insisted that soy milk turned people gay. Trying not to choke on the ridiculously expensive dining hall food, I asked what he meant. “It’s the estrogen,” he explained to me with all the confidence that came from studying high school biology at the kitchen table. “It turns people gay. How else do you explain California?” I don’t know how to explain California, but this did explain the rumors about my lactose-intolerant Cuban friend who poured soy milk over his cereal and said deviant phrases like “what the hell.”
While this story might just provoke laughter and ridicule towards a freshman who would believe such asinine pseudoscience, it might be better to direct that laughter and ridicule towards the source: the so-called educated adults from which that student learned the pseudoscience. And honestly, you don’t have to look far to find them.
This student was a homeschool kid attending Patrick Henry College. The man who created PHC, Michael Farris, is a self-declared “buddy” of Joseph Farah, the editor of WorldNetDaily, a website that pretends to do legitimate journalism. (In fact, one of Farah’s own kids has attended PHC.) Farris has featured Farah on HSLDA’s radio program, Home School HeartBeat. That program is where Farris mentions Farah is “my buddy”. Farah has returned the sentiment, making Farris an exclusive WND columnist in 2006.
You know what else happened in 2006?
WND published a series entitled “SOY IS MAKING KIDS ‘GAY.'”
Yes, WND ran a six-part series by James “Jim” Rutz, a dominionist who wrote a book called Megashift that teaches you how to “prepare yourself to take part in a total makeover of Planet Earth.”Rutz’s soy series is full of ridiculous pseudoscience about soy. Here’s an excerpt:
There’s a slow poison out there that’s severely damaging our children and threatening to tear apart our culture…
The dangerous food I’m speaking of is soy. Soybean products are feminizing, and they’re all over the place. You can hardly escape them anymore…
Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality.
But Rutz is not alone in fearing the evil power of the soy bean. Nor is he the first. In 2001, half a decade before Rutz wrote “SOY IS MAKING KIDS ‘GAY,'” Debi Pearl — yes, homeschool guru Debi Pearl from No Greater Joy Ministries — wrote an article entitled, “Soy Alert.” Pearl, unfortunately, was entirely blind in 2001 as to how soy makes kids gay. But she was fortunately enlightened enough to realize another danger of soy:
Soy makes babies masturbate!
Yes, you read that right. I’ll let Pearl try to explain:
We regularly get letters from parents that are shocked and horrified to have discovered that their babies, as young as 18 months, are, without doubt, masturbating. It is a shocking but growing phenomenon. Some of the problems are associated with small children clutching vibrating toys, but not in all cases. Yet, there must be a predisposing prompted by hormones. Could it be caused by the hormone element in soy formula?
Pearl never answered the question. Which is convenient for her. But she also insinuated that marriage problems could be related to soy:
If your husband lacks leadership and male dominance, but you seem to have a strong assertive drive, then stop eating soy and do some research.
All of the “evidence” she found led her to a rather gloom conclusion:
Soy is a drug, like many herbs. It is too powerful of a drug to use freely as a food.
But fear not. Pearl discovered a biblically-based solution:
When men try to improve on what God gave, it should be questioned. Cereal should be grains; milk should be the way it was in the Promised Land; meat should be as it was when Jesus fed the multitude, or when Abraham fed the angels of God.
With homeschool “leaders” like Debi Pearl and “news” sources like WND teaching these myths, it’s no wonder a homeschooled college freshman at PHC thought they were real. Hopefully he has learned real science since then.
Hopefully, too, homeschoolers will start demanding real science from their leaders and news sources.
***** UPDATE: It seems the source of these myths might very well be the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF). WAPF is a lobbying organization that is immensely popular in homeschooling circles (just take a look at the comments on this popular homeschool blogger’s post). Homeschool curriculum company Sonlight sells the Foundation’s foundational textbook, the cookbook Nourishing Traditions. (It’s hard to exaggerate the adoration some homeschool families have for the book. It’s right up there next to the Bible.) According to WAPF itself, “The most prominent group warning about the dangers of modern soy consumption would be the Weston A. Price Foundation.” And what would that warning be? Again, according to WAPF: “The fact that soy can feminize males and masculinize females is evidence of soy targeting the brain.” WAPF’s president, Sally Fallon, first gained notoriety for attacking soy in 2000, a year before Debi Pearl’s 2001 “Soy Alert.” In 2000, Fallon called soy “the next Asbestos” and claimed it caused sexual problems for kids. It seems reasonable to assume this was source for Pearl in 2001, considering the Pearl family uses WAPF material.