Amidst a barrage of vitriolic messages, such as “Your whole f***ing inbred family needs to be f***ing shot, f***ing NAZIS. Can’t wait for someone to unalive you and your f***ing kids,” Moms for Liberty’, a “parental rights” organization, has found itself under intense scrutiny and backlash. These self-proclaimed “Joyful Warriors” consisting of moms, dads, and grandparents, have been branded everything from racists to neo-Nazis, subject to smear campaigns on both social and mainstream media.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a far-left, self-identified civil rights organization closely aligned to the teachers’ unions – both AFT and NEA – calls Moms for Liberty an “extremist,” “anti-government” group that opposes racial inclusivity and spreads hateful rhetoric. SPLC has been successfully sued for defamation for labeling and smearing organizations. SPLC’s portrayal starkly contrasts the group’s assertion that they merely advocate for their rights to guide their children’s education without governmental interference.
Diving deeper into its origin and ideology, Moms for Liberty emerged in Florida in 2021, stemming from concerns about the contemporary educational landscape. The founders, Tiffany Justice, Tina Descovich, and Bridget Ziegler – all current or former school board members – established the organization with the mission to safeguard and restore parental rights in education.
Ziegler stepped down from Moms for Liberty in Spring 2021. Ziegler is currently Vice President of School Board Leadership Programs at The Leadership Institute.
Adopting the slogan, “We do not co-parent with the government,” the group has seen exponential growth since its inception. The organization now boasts 245 chapters spread across 45 states, with over 120,000 members, stirring debates nationwide about parents’ rights regarding their children’s public school education.
The nonpartisan nonprofit organization’s principal belief is that schools should educate children, not impose beliefs that might undermine the core values fostered within their homes. Their mission statement encapsulates this ethos, saying, “Moms for Liberty is dedicated to fighting for the survival of America by unifying, educating, and empowering parents to defend their parental rights at all levels of government.”
Addressing the Demands & Allegations
The organization is constantly in the news demanding accountability for the educational outcomes of America’s children. Moms for Liberty’s members want to know why the majority of America’s children are not proficient in reading, writing, and math according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores and statewide testing. Co-founder Justice, in a recent interview with Deseret News, said, “We want every child to be engaged and involved in their education in school, and we want to see children learning practical skills where they can unfold their full potential. We want every child to be included in proficiency rates for reading that should be much better than the two-thirds of kids not reading on grade level in schools right now. Every child should feel safe and valued at school, and every child has the right to learn to read. And currently, that is not happening.” She also stated that she believes the group has been unjustly depicted by its ideological adversaries and media outlets favoring the left and teachers’ unions.
According to Justice, their primary goals are to restore balance in the educational system, which they believe has strayed from the values of the majority of American families, and to combat governmental overreach.
Justice emphasized their focus on practical skills, inclusivity, kindness, and the primary objective of schooling: education. She highlighted their stance is not anti-LGBTQ; contrary to certain depictions. Justice highlighted the organization’s gay members, stating that they hold a variety of positions within the organization including being chapter leaders and national outreach directors. She said, “We have members who have gay children….But the bottom line is: the least interesting thing about an elementary school student should be their sexual orientation.”
The group contends that the role of schools is to educate, not to indoctrinate, challenging any perceived attempts by teachers’ unions or government entities to diminish parental authority or influence children’s values. They believe some schools purposely influence children towards certain beliefs, questioning their gender identities and exposing them to inappropriate sexual information.
In response to this, Moms for Liberty advocates for books addressing gender identity and sexuality to not be included in school libraries. The organization insists that schools should focus more on academics rather than on the sexual orientation or other personal identifiers of students.
To effect change, Moms for Liberty has established a political action committee to endorse nationwide candidates in school board elections. Their impact was tangible when 275 of the 500 endorsed candidates were elected in 2022.
Receiving support from notable figures like Governor Ron DeSantis, who signed Florida’s “Parents Bill of Rights” in 2021, has boosted the organization’s momentum. This law enhances parents’ ability to direct their children’s education and healthcare, a movement other state legislatures have followed.
Another smear commonly used to attack Moms for Liberty is accusing them of being a racist organization. While the media attacks founders Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich, showing them as the two White women leading Moms for Liberty, they hardly ever mention Tia Bess, a Black mother, who is the Director of National Engagement. Bess before joining Moms for Liberty was already an active mom fighting for the education and rights of her children. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bess sued the Duval County School Board over the mask requirement enforced at her son’s school, Greenland Pines Elementary. She, along with 10 plaintiffs, argued that the mask further inhibited her autistic son’s ability to hear and speak. Bess’s argument was that the policy violated students’ constitutional rights, saying the policy was “not based on science or reason, but instead some combination of the political leanings, emotions, irrational fears and psychological anxieties of its superintendent and School Board members.”
When asked about the racism and hate group allegations directed at Moms for Liberty, Bess’ response to the accusations was, “Do I look like a racist to y’all?…It’s time to stop the division and stand up for our kids.”
Moms for Liberty Summit
At their recent four-day annual summit in Philadelphia, Moms for Liberty highlighted their intention to continue engaging in school board races nationwide through their political action committee. This event featured prominent Republican speakers, leading some critics to label the group as politically conservative. However, the organization maintains that it won’t endorse legislative races or the presidential election, refuting claims that it leans towards a particular political narrative.
Despite this, the Democratic National Committee criticized the group and participating Republicans, terming them as “anti-freedom, history-erasing, book-banning groups.” During the summit, protesters rallied against Moms for Liberty, labeling them a “hate group.”
Protesters threw eggs at attendees, even at the children of attendees. A mom with a baby was harassed and threatened by protesters. Attendees were followed and cursed at by protesters every time they left the hotel.
The vitriol and hate directed to the summit attendees was shocking to the conscience. Even the Museum of the American Revolution, which hosted a Moms for Liberty event during the summit, was vandalized.
Adam Coleman, a Black man, founder of “Wrong Speak Publishing,” attended the recent summit and dismissed claims labeling Moms for Liberty as racist, hateful, or fascist. Contrary to fascist ideologies advocating greater governmental control, Coleman stressed that this organization is advocating the exact opposite, demanding transparency to shield their children from exploitation and maltreatment effectively.
According to Coleman, Moms for Liberty comprises ordinary individuals who did not heavily engage in politics until political issues directly affected their children. They are challenging government control and opposing attempts to share parenting responsibilities. However, he acknowledged that people often interpret situations based on their biases and preconceived notions.
He said, “They need a villain to galvanize against, and in this case, their enemy is a group of mostly working-class mothers.”
As the organization grows nationally, it has spurred a countermovement of activists who oppose its philosophies and tactics. Co-founders, Justice and Descovich, started this journey as mothers who “had faith in American parents to take back the public education system in America.” They aim to “reclaim and reform” the system, asserting that parents from diverse backgrounds support their cause.
The organization stands united against what they perceive as indoctrination and manipulation of children in schools. Parents affiliated with Moms for Liberty desire an educational environment that aligns with their values, not a demand for uniformity but a plea for parental rights in the upbringing of their children.
Click here to visit the Moms for Liberty website.