Duggar parents Michelle and Jim Bob (who home-school their own brood) were set to give a speech at the convention's 30th anniversary held in Red Deer, Alberta, on April 9-10, 2016, but in a recent press release, the association announced that they have been dropped from the program.
"Although early feedback from our members this summer was supportive of having the Duggars come here, recent feedback from our own members points out that their appearance here would not be in the best interest of home educators," AHEA president Paul van den Bosch wrote in a statement on the website.
He continued, "Our members so pointed out that, as the Duggars would have been giving only two talks (of the more than 40 talks available), their presence would have been only a small part of the convention and the Duggars' philosophy is not representative of AHEA as a whole."
According to CBC News, the Duggars were booked for the appearance two years ago, at the height of their popularity and before Josh Duggar's molestation (and then infidelity) scandal was exposed.
"As we have learned, child abuse can happen in any home and is never 'old news,'" van den Bosch wrote.
While fans of the family will be disappointed with the decision, it seems to be a wise one on the organization's behalf, as the Duggars' appearance at the conference could very well detract from the Alberta Home Education Association's mission. And the overwhelming backlash from the community suggests the family would certainly be attracting attention for all the wrong reasons.
Michelle and Jim Bob's appearance may also present a conflict of interest, as many have criticized the way they choose to deal with Josh Duggar's molestation scandal, and the AHEA will have Chris Butler of the RCMP speaking about preventing child abuse, titled "Protecting the Gift."
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