Breaking Polygamy: The Reeducation of Willie Steed

Part 2: Steed, 18 and starting a new life, found his FLDS education had left him unable to read.
8:59 | 11/23/12

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Transcript for Breaking Polygamy: The Reeducation of Willie Steed
Willie is now an outsider in his own hometown with no money, no means of support, he turns to a group called "holding out help," a kind of underground railroad for those escaping from polygamy. Down all the career preparation and got through that. Reporter: They find him a home with pam and ron jenson. Down here's gonna be my room. Here's my bed, my bath bag, everything I came with. Check it out, I still got the keys to our house. Reporter: Because of his decision to leave the religion, to the flds, he's now known as a "son of perdition." Son of perdition means you are satan's property. And that you will burn in hell for the rest of your life when you -- when you leave this life for what you have done. Reporter: Are you a son of perdition? If I am, well I sure love it. If this his hell, well I'm glad I stepped out of heaven to find it. It's the very first thing we start with. Reporter: While helping him write his first resume, pam discovers something shocking. Do you want me to write it down? I'll write it down. Reporter: Willie can't read. Did you realhow little you knew? Yes, I did. Being in that religion I knew that I was -- I was going nowhere. I wasn't growing in life. I couldn't change, because, for instance, I didn't know how to change. Wall, ball. Reporter: When he starts his first lesson with pam's daughter, amanda, the going is tough. Dodge. Close. Dog? No. No, that's right dog and then. Dogs. Reporter: Willie is reading at a first grade level. Change part to the word cart. C-art. I should have learned this when I was in first grade. This is good speed, you're doing good. According to willie, most children in the flds get no more than a grade school education. If they want you to go to school, they'll pay for it, but until then, you're pretty much uneducated as far as anything goes. There's nothing anyone can do to help because the flds is protected by utah's homeschooling law. Oversight of any family that homeschools their children is strictly prohibited. Carol lear is a lawyer for the board of education. The local school has no right to go into the home or demand from the parents to see the curriculum they're using or teaching. So the utah state board of education has no idea if parents are teaching the correct curriculum, and how long they're actually studying or working as students? There's no assessment requirement. There is no penalty if the parent doesn't do that. Reporter: Inside the flds, every textbook must be approved by warren jeffs. During a visit to their publishing plant in colorado city, we were surprised to see women assembling history books about the short creek raid, a government crackdown on the flds that happened in 1953. At the same time willie is learning how to read his mother and sisters are settling into here house. Willie's sister, suzanne, talked to us about education inside the flds. How disappointing was it when you realized, when you came outside and you tried to go to school or see where you were with other kids your age, how little you actually had learned from an education standpoint? It was extremely frustrating for me because in there they assure you that they were teaching your children everything you need for this grade level. Reporter: The homeschools inside flds are like no other school system in america. There, science and history are often fiction. They don't teach about the moon because they don't believe that man landed on the moon. So you guys didn't believe that an astronaut had actually landed on the moon? Reporter: Actually they were taught that god led neil armstrong away from the moon. So this is interesting, 'tell the children that I will love them and I will come and gather them up if they are clean and pure.' Reporter: Warren jeffs' image is on every notebook. And when 15 year-old gloria shows us her report card from homescwe see that religious studies were the top priority. We did priesthood history. You had to go through all their names like joseph smith, brigham young, john taylor, john w. Wolley and warren jeffs. Reporter: Instead of studying math and science, she spent her days at school copying warren jeffs' proverbs. When you were writing it, did you believe everything you wrote? Oh, yeah. What do you think about all of that now? Well, they were just lying to us. Reporter: These days gloria's free to study what interests her. So she copies from the encyclopedia into what she calls her "body book." I'm just barely on aids, it's so very much. That you get it after sex. It's a terrible disease that they haven't found a cure for. Reporter: Gloria never heard of aids until she left the flds, which made us wonder what else the flds censored from their people. Did you guys ever learn about the civil war? Yeah, some of it but it never really stuck. Did you know who ronald reagan is? Do you know how presidents are elected in this country? How? Ever hear about the electoral college? Reporter: They were taught that warren jeffs was president of the united states. Did you guys ever hear who santa claus was? No. No. He's supposed to have a magical sleigh that visits all the children in the world. Well, he didn't visit us. Reporter: It's been a month since the girls left colorado city. And we were there with them on their first day of school. 11 year-old ada is about to enter a new world. She's starting fifth grade today. My lovely daughter, can i comb your hair. Reporter: She got up at dawn so her mother could comb her hair into those elaborate braids. We like to french braid because it helps their hair thicken up. Reporter: Women in the flds never cut their hair. We were trained, your hair is your crown and you need to keep it up on your head. According to their teachings, they will need their hair in heaven. Women will be asked to wash the men's feet as an anointing. And I want to do that. Reporter: Ada is still caught between two worlds. The prairie dress she once wore is gone, but she still hides her body under high neck, long sleeved shirts. Yet her mother is disappointed about how easily all her daughters left their old life behind. I keep wanting to tell her, pull your top up, darling, or when there's this little cleavage showing, I'm like children! Reporter: Suzette's upset because those old fashioned dresses are all about faith. Women cover up from neck to ankle because their bodies are considered sacred temples. Three years ago, we talked with lizzie jeffs, the town dressmaker. The lord teaches that if we can dress properly, it's easier to see each other as a person, a whole person, inside and out. Reporter: As they settle into their new home, the girls still hold onto the fragments of their past. Time to play! Time to play! Reporter: Within the flds, everything, even a simple game of cards is based on the bonds of kinship. 6-year-old nellie calls this "the memory game." This is leona, this is marie and this is dinessa marie's daughter. We're making up mates. Put 'em together as mates. Reporter: It's the flds version of "go fish." Do you have marilyn and father? Nope. Go fish. Reporter: Over three months have gone by. But no word from their father. They still have no idea where he is. Do you remember your father? Uh-huh. What do you remember most about him? Well, he had grey hair, he always wore this blue work suit and he always wore a metal hat. Do you miss your dad? Uh-huh. I think all of us do. Reporter: She's worried that she'll never see her family again. We're considered apostates and wicked now that we're out here. Reporter: An apostate is a person who deliberately leaves the religion. So you're not allowed to talk to any of your old friends and family. Not really. How's that make you feel? I don't know. Makes you feel sad probably sad, huh? Uh-huh. When we come back, the power of a haircut. We weren't allowed to cut our

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