Who are Moms for Liberty? Unveiling extremist ties behind book bans

Who are Moms for Liberty? Unveiling extremist ties behind book bans

by Suswati Basu

In recent years, the battle over educational curriculum and the banning of books in American schools has garnered significant attention. At the forefront of this divisive issue is “Moms for Liberty,” an organisation that presents itself as a champion of parental rights but reportedly has connections with far-right extremism.

Jen Psaki reveals what ‘Moms for Liberty’ is all about

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s comprehensive profile of this group reveals disturbing ties to anti-government sentiments, conspiracy theories, and an aggressive campaign against LGBTQ+ and racially inclusive school curricula. Only today (September 7th), Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appointed the group’s co-founder to the states ethics commission.

Read: Heartstopper novels restricted to adults in Mississippi library amid new law

Extremist roots

Founded in 2021 by former Florida school board members Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich, along with Sarasota County school board member Bridget Ziegler, Moms for Liberty initially emerged as a response to COVID-19 safety measures in schools. However, the organisation quickly evolved to encompass a range of far-right ideologies including book exclusions, censorship, as well as anti-race and anti-LGBTQ sentiment. While Ziegler has since distanced herself from the group, Justice and Descovich continue to lead it.

Book bans and beyond

Moms for Liberty’s core agenda revolves around opposing what they deem as “woke indoctrination” in schools. For example, Justice appears to have used the word “woke” 59 times in the past year on her own Twitter page. This includes advocating for book bans in school libraries and endorsing political candidates who align with their views. They also utilise social media platforms to target teachers and school officials, push for the abolition of the Department of Education, propagate conspiracy theories, and promote hate speech against the LGBTQ+ community.

We spoke to Messy Roots author Laura Gao, whose own book has been put in the firing line, where she reiterated that this effort was being driven by groups such as “Moms for Liberty” and local churches, reflecting a broader societal issue tied to anti-LGBTQ sentiments.

Read: Laura Gao on Messy Roots book ban and anti-LGBTQ sentiment

In 2021, math teacher Paul Rossi was pulled from his classes at Grace Church School after criticising the school’s anti-racism policies in which the head of school made the admission that “we’re demonizing white people for being born.” Justice was among many to join the bandwagon and support him.

Moms for Liberty: what they have said

A glimpse into the group’s rhetoric reveals a stark picture of their beliefs:

Background and rapid growth

Moms for Liberty initially gained traction in Florida but rapidly expanded nationwide, with over 250 chapters in 42 states within two years. Their influence even attracted high-profile figures like former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who endorsed several of the group’s members running for school board positions. DeSantis just recently appointed Descovich on the state’s ethics committee. While US Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley was spotted endorsing Justice on September 7th.

Targeting LGBTQ+ rights

Moms for Liberty’s aggressive stance against LGBTQ+ rights includes opposition to gender identity discussions, gender-affirming care, and proposed changes to Title IX that would expand LGBTQ+ rights. The group has repeatedly used derogatory language and conspiracy theories to advance its anti-LGBTQ+ agenda.

Read: Book bans and literary censorship: how US is following in footsteps of Russia

CNN reporter Elle Reeves spoke to Moms for Liberty chair Darcy Schoening, as well as parents opposed to them who handed a note to Reeves calling it a “hate group.” When asked whether she thinks this was a “coordinated effort to make more children trans and gay,” Schoening confirmed she felt this way, but refused to acknowledge that it sounded like a conspiracy theory.

Who are Moms for Liberty? A look into the conservative group

Anti-inclusive curriculum and book bans

One of the organisation’s primary objectives is to prevent what they term “inclusive curriculum” from entering schools. They fervently oppose critical race theory, social emotional learning, and books that they consider inappropriate. Moms for Liberty has been instrumental in the surge of book bans in schools and libraries across the country, often resorting to inflammatory tactics.

Extremist affiliations

Moms for Liberty’s affiliations with extremist groups, White nationalists, election deniers, and participants in the January 6th events raise serious concerns. Their connections to Proud Boys and other extremist organisations have resulted in unsettling images of members posing with hate group members.

School Board candidates celebrated victory with Proud Boys flashing White Power signs

A threat to education and democracy

Moms for Liberty’s swift rise to prominence, combined with their extremist ties and aggressive tactics, poses a significant threat to both education and democratic values. While presenting themselves as defenders of parental rights, their actions reveal a dangerous agenda that seeks to undermine inclusive education and perpetuate divisive ideologies.

As the battle over education and book bans rages on, understanding the true nature of organisations like Moms for Liberty is essential. Their influence on local school boards and policies can have far-reaching consequences, impacting the education and well-being of American children.

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