Patrick Henry College, Homeschool Bastion, Has LGBT Group

Now this is interesting. I have just recently learned that Patrick Henry College, founded by Home School Legal Defense Association founder Michael Farris as part of his plan to filter homeschool graduates into government and politics, has a group called Queer at Patrick Henry College.

We are Queer at Patrick Henry College. This is a collaborative blog produced by several Patrick Henry College (PHC) students, current and former. We have varying opinions and beliefs, but one thing we share in common is our desire to help and encourage other Patrick Henry College students, current and former, in any way that we can.

As of the start of this blog we are all anonymous contributors to this community, some for personal reasons, some for family/friend reasons, some for professional reasons, and some for a combination of the above.

Patrick Henry College maintains a requirement of non-advocacy for enrolled students in regards to LGBTQ issues, but those issues are near and dear to many of us. This blog has been created as a way for us to express our opinions and thoughts on LGBTQ related topics.

Patrick Henry College has blocked this Queer at PHC blog from their servers so as to keep students from viewing it. Exercising this sort of censorship over students it is simultaneously both praising as the nation’s only hope for the future and working to launch into government and politics through the gateway of prestigious internships seems bizarre. Of course, it’s important to remember that this is a university that originally required male students to get written permission from female students fathers’ before being allowed to date and still requires every couple to always have a chaperon. What you see here is the quintessential Christian homeschool problem. We grew up being told that we were members of the smartest, most mature, most intelligent, most promising group of young people in the country, but also being extremely sheltered from “the world” and existing in highly-controlled environments.

More than this, though, Patrick Henry College chancellor Michael Farris has already threatened to use legal means to shut down Queer at PHC’s facebook page. The group called his bluff and he backed down. The entire incident actually feels very typical of Farris. I spent a week at an educational camp at Patrick Henry College one summer while I was in high school, and at one point I approached Farris to talk to him. Mostly I just wanted to meet him, face to face, to say that I had. I had been raised to idolize him as the savior of homeschooling and a sort of visionary, and I held him in high respect. Much to my surprise, he brushed me off and acted like he was too important, too busy, to have anything to do with me. The entire experience left a very bad taste in my mouth. The way Farris comes off in the article about his threats of legal action against Queer at PHC is exactly how I remember him.

Anyway, I’m encouraged and a bit astounded that Patrick Henry College has an LGBT group. The reason I’m astounded is that I don’t know why anyone who is queer would choose voluntarily to go to Patrick Henry College. I mean, the entire point of the school is to train homeschool graduates in government so that they can go into politics and “take back the country for Christ.” At a talk during the educational camp I attended, Farris praised Bowers v. Hardwick, the Supreme Court decision that upheld bans on sodomy. He told us he very much feared that this decision would be overturned by the upcoming Lawrence v. Texas decision, which it was, but that he thought Bowers was good law. In other words, in Farris’s ideal world, homosexuality would be a crime.

Regardless of why the students of Queer at PHC are there – and it may be that some have little choice – I see this as a very good development. The LGBT groups that have been springing up in Christian schools from Grove City College to Bob Jones University in recent months are a sign of the forward march of equal rights in this country.

Edit: one of the co-founders of Queer at PHC emailed me to explain why she attended PHC, and what she says is the incredibly obvious point I was apparently too tired last night to see:

I would agree that it’s unlikely that someone who knows they are queer would voluntarily attend Patrick Henry College. But in my case, I didn’t begin to come to grips with my orientation until a few months before I graduated from PHC. I knew I liked girls, but I persuaded myself that it was just “this thing” that would go away after awhile. I didn’t even know the word “bisexual” until I was about 19. I was just that ignorant about the world and about myself. In addition, I didn’t have very many options for where I could attend college. As a female-bodied person raised in the Q/CP environment, my parents told me that it was important to get a college education so that I could raise well-educated children. But I had to go to a Christian school, and I had to find a college that would pay nearly full tuition in scholarships, because they would not cosign on a loan for me. In the end, Patrick Henry College was the school that fit the bill. I was unhappy with the school leadership within the first semester, but I stayed because I didn’t want to return to my life as a jobless stay-at-home child. I made some of my best friends at PHC, but I often wonder how my life would be different now had I gone to a school with a more affirming environment.

These are just my experiences, so other queer students and alumni at the school might have very different reasons for why they went to PHC and stayed there.

Michael Farris Doesn't Read the Bible (Apparently)
"You Did a Wrong Thing, Mommy": In Which I Tell My Six-Year-Old That I Went to an Anti-Gay Rally as a Teen
Voddie Baucham, Daughters, and "Virgin Brides"
Talking to Kids about the News
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.


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