Fox News star and far-right extremist Tucker Carlson is scheduled to be a Keynote Speaker at the Great Homeschool Conventions (GHC). GHC, the most prominent convention company for homeschoolers in the United States, was founded in 2006 by evangelical homeschooling parents Brennan and Mary Jo Dean. It hosts five annual conferences across the United States in California, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, and Texas.
Since its inception, GHC has courted controversy by platforming far-right extremists. The trolling blogger Matt Walsh, anti-vax Republican congressional candidate Heidi St. John, and Terri Shiavo celebrity lawyer David Gibbs III have all launched and/or significantly elevated their careers through GHC. The company has also partnered with right-wing organizations like the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), the most powerful homeschool lobbying organization in the world.
While in line with their previous associations with Walsh, St. John, and Gibbs III, GHC’s recent invitation to Carlson has caused heated debate among evangelical homeschoolers. Carlson is known for his dehumanizing and hateful rhetoric and his 2021 documentary defending the January 6 insurrectionists. Some evangelical homeschoolers see this invitation as one step too far into needless politicization of homeschooling. Evangelical homeschool leader Susan Wise Bauer, who helped popularize classical education among homeschoolers, wrote a public Facebook post on Friday, February 4, 2022, denouncing GHC for inviting Carlson.
Bauer’s condemnation was echoed later that day by Julie Bogart, a popular speaker at homeschool conventions, including GHC. Bogart was recently barred from presenting at future GHC conventions due to a personal blog post that expressed political opinions GHC found unforgivable. Like Bauer, Bogart sees Carlson’s invitation as part of GHC’s gradual move rightward.
However, the history of GHC runs counter to this narrative. Brennan and Mary Jo Dean, the owners of the company, are right-wing evangelicals and they have intentionally and consistently promoted speakers and exhibitors that share their worldview. They have also ostracized and purged from their ranks anyone who has questioned their actions. In 2014, Brennan and Mary Jo Dean joined with other evangelical homeschool leaders in blacklisting Jenefer Igarashi, a GHC speaker who spoke up when her young child was allegedly sexually abused by the teenage son of Paul and Gena Suarez, the publishers of GHC sponsor The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.
GHC also continues to this day their years-long partnership with Gibbs III and his organization, the National Center for Life and Liberty. Gibbs III is infamous in homeschooling circles for his duplicitous treatment of homeschool abuse survivors. In 2016, he was disqualified by a judge from a high-profile sex abuse case featuring disgraced homeschool leader Bill Gothard, Gretchen Wilkinson v. IBLP, due to allegations that he was “playing both sides” in the case. This isn’t an isolated case. As I reported in depth for Homeschoolers Anonymous, David C. Gibbs III and his organizations have pulled in millions of dollars advocating on behalf of child abusers over the years.
While GHC has welcomed individuals like Gibbs III and Tucker Carlson, it has closed its doors to many who would bring more moderate and critical voices. In 2014, GHC rejected an application for a child abuse prevention presentation by Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (HARO), a nonprofit organization founded by homeschool alumni.
Organizations sponsoring the convention hosting Tucker Carlson include: evangelical news magazine WORLD, the homeschool curriculum company Sonlight, the Christian health care program Medi-Share, David C. Gibbs III’s National Center for Life and Liberty, and Confederate apologist Andrew Pudewa’s Institute for Excellence in Writing.