Ken Cuccinelli, HSLDA, and Identification Abuse

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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.

23 thoughts on “Ken Cuccinelli, HSLDA, and Identification Abuse

  1. blufroghollow February 20, 2015 / 8:13 am

    I am disappointed in this post. Declining to obtain a social security card for an infant is not the same as not documenting the birth. The critical piece of documentation necessary for every other piece of documentation is the birth certificate. As long as the birth is recorded in some way – filing a birth certificate with the state, a notarized affidavit by a birth attendant or the like – a social security card can be obtained later. The whole deal is dependent ONLY on registering the birth in some way. The post makes it look as though not obtaining a social security number is the problem.


    • R.L. Stollar February 20, 2015 / 10:28 am

      Not obtaining a Social Security number is a problem for many homeschool alumni.


      • blufroghollow February 20, 2015 / 5:09 pm

        Since some of my children were born before social security numbers were issued at the same time as the birth certificate, I can tell you that it was no big deal to get them social security numbers when needed. Along with the birth certificate, the presence of the child was all that was needed.

        Since a ssn is needed to get a savings account, I agree that it seems a bit extreme to decline doing so but as long as the birth is registered, there should be no problem obtaining it at a later date.


      • Headless Unicorn Guy February 25, 2015 / 8:46 am

        I can guess the history of this trope. Even in 1970 (my first tour in-country), SSNs were suspect:
        “SIX-SIXTY-SIX!!!!! DON’T TAKE THE MARK!!!!!”


  2. lesliecatherine February 20, 2015 / 12:23 pm

    What I don’t understand about the position of Cuccinelli is this: Eventually, your child will need a social security card if they are going to fully participate in society. This is just a reality. There are multiple things, such as jobs, tax records, etc, that will require such identification. Why make the child wait until they are older to obtain such documentation? What does this strategy accomplish?


    • Sarah J February 22, 2015 / 10:27 pm

      I was thinking the same thing. I mean, I don’t think most of these people expect that their kids are going to live off the land, so what’s the point in putting this stuff off?


      • Headless Unicorn Guy February 25, 2015 / 8:47 am

        Male kids can always take over Daddy’s house church as Pastor. Off-the-books income from Tithes.
        Female kids are Quiverfull breeding stock anyway.


  3. Michael Keith Blankenship February 20, 2015 / 12:24 pm

    Did HA approach Mr. Cuccinelli for comment? Also, this idea of not getting a social must be a fringe/localised phenomenon. I am not acquainted with any homeschoolers who lack an SSN, and only know about it from here and SSB.


    • Warbler February 20, 2015 / 5:03 pm

      No, it is not a fringe/localized phenomenon because you didnt hear/know about it till recently.
      And because you ate today does not mean world hunger is solved.

      I know my homeschooling conventions where it was suggested and I know a family with children in their near-40s who did not get their kids any documentation until “they decided for themselves” to get it.
      Interestingly enough, they all got Drivers licenses and ids and things as they got older, so what was the point?
      Oh yeah, and that family also refused to follow any state homeschooling laws.

      This stuff is real. It is out there. It happens a lot.


      • Michael Keith Blankenship February 21, 2015 / 4:42 am

        Warbler: Do these “no ID” types belong to groups or associations? Do you know the names of same?


      • Hattie February 21, 2015 / 7:48 am

        “No, it is not a fringe/localized phenomenon because you didnt hear/know about it till recently.
        And because you ate today does not mean world hunger is solved.”



  4. John February 21, 2015 / 6:18 pm

    It’s not hard to get a SSN if you have a US birth certificate, you just go in and fill out an application, I did. What I find odd about this article is that Cuccinelli’s motivations are anti-socialist/government information tracking (whether real or perceived) not some some weird desire to control his children. The fact that this behavior happens to correspond to a small minority of parents who use it against there children when they have come of age does not put it in the same category, so I don’t get why you collapse them together as if Cuccinelli’s behavior supports these collateral reasons. Why don’t you acknowledge this in the article instead of obfuscating it? Why is this case looked at through a myopic lens of child abuse when it clearly isn’t about that? Seems like the article can be summarized as “my enemy’s friend is my enemy,” so let’s accuse him of ‘child identification abuse’ because, hey, it will make a quasi-sensational story and associate a big name with our issue. A platonic “noble lie”?


    • Michael Keith Blankenship February 24, 2015 / 6:44 am

      Good point. I think Cuccinelli is referring to a completely different motivation. In addition, it sounded like his mind was not made up.
      That said, I don’t see any benefit to not getting a Social
      I question how widespread this practice is.


  5. Michael Keith Blankenship February 22, 2015 / 6:18 am

    ” Because I ate today” Yes, you really got me there. Brilliant rejoinder. Any way, no names of groups who advocate this?

    Mr. Stollar: Did you contact Mr. Cuccinelli about this issue?


      • Michael Keith Blankenship February 25, 2015 / 11:27 am

        “Considering” and “favoring” are not synonyms. Further, not obtaining a Social at birth does not necessarily equal denial of identity documents.


  6. cynthia curran February 22, 2015 / 8:27 pm

    Well, this thinking lead to the Measles breakout in Orange Count yCalifornian, a lot of upper middle to rich conservative evangelicals there opposed vaccinating there kids because they would get autism. There are some extreme right wingers in Orange County with bucks that attend Rick Warren’s church and the Calvary Chapel that opposed government. granted, some liberal folks were also opposed to Vaccinations in California but in OC it was more the Ken C types that are social Conservative libertarians that caused the measles outbreak to spread. The anti Id’s and the anti-vaccters are similar.


    • blufroghollow February 23, 2015 / 8:03 am

      I do not agree that vaccination and social security cards are the same issue. Nor is vaccination and documenting a child’s birth the same issue. Please read this article regarding vaccination and the measles outbreak:

      I registered my children’s births (some were born at home), and obtained social security numbers for them. However, there are some (not all) vaccinations that my husband (a physician) and I declined to provide our children.


    • Headless Unicorn Guy February 25, 2015 / 8:48 am

      Well, this thinking lead to the Measles breakout in Orange Count yCalifornian, a lot of upper middle to rich conservative evangelicals there opposed vaccinating there kids because they would get autism.

      It wasn’t just “rich conservative evangelicals”.
      It was “upper middle to rich” across the board.


  7. Michael Keith Blankenship February 23, 2015 / 3:34 pm

    So no desire to actually name the people/groups that are advocating for this?

    What was the context of Cuccinelli’s remarks?


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