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.
- When Your Very Identity Is Held Hostage: Alecia Pennington and Identification Abuse
- James and Lisa Pennington Respond to Identification Abuse Claims
- Lisa Pennington on Adult Children, Maturity, and Drivers’ Licenses
- Identity as Means of Control: Results from the 2015 Survey of Identification Abuse Within Homeschooling
- Ken Cuccinelli, HSLDA, and Identification Abuse