Moms for Liberty named ‘extremist’ by civil rights watchdog

NPR, Odette Yousef, June 7, 2023

The Southern Poverty Law Center labelled a dozen so-called “parental rights” groups as anti-government extremist. These include Moms for Liberty and Purple for Parents (Indiana).

The SPLC report compares Moms for Liberty and similar organizations of today to pro-segregationist parent groups that flourished in the wake of the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

“They really are seeking to undermine public education holistically and to divide communities.” One tactic they use is to show up to school board meetings with far-right groups (such as the Proud Boys) who explicitly advocate for and/or commit intimidation and violence.

Inside Florida’s ‘underground lab’ for far-right education policies

Hechinger Report, May 31, 2023, Kathryn Joyce

In Sarasota County, as school board members battle over book bans, character education, attacks on LGBTQ+ individuals and “woke audits,” students say that “Sarasota is Florida’s underground lab, and we’re its non-consenting lab rats…Any legislation that might be proposed on a statewide or national level is proposed here first.”

“We all understand that we’re facing the destruction of public education.” – Sarasota County school board member

Optometrist FL mom joins with PEN America, Penguin Random House in lawsuit against book bans

New York Times, May 19, 2023, Michelle Goldberg

Lindsay Durtschi, a member of the P.T.A. and an optometrist who grew up in an evangelical household and attended a Christian college, joined a groundbreaking lawsuit with another parent, PEN America, Penguin Random House and a group of authors. They are plaintiffs against a Florida school and school board for their sweeping school library censorship. Much of the library censorship originated from one person, a high school English teacher who is a member of the neo-Confederate group Daughters of the Confederacy.

Majority of book challenges across the nation were filed by just 11 people

Washington Post, May 24, 2023, Hannah Natanson

Books about LGBTQ people are fast becoming the main target of a historic wave of school book challenges — and a large percentage of the complaints come from a minuscule number of hyperactive adults. In some cases, these serial filers relied on a network of volunteers gathered together under the aegis of conservative parents’ groups such as Moms for Liberty.

Christian nationalists target public schools

The Baptist News, Feb 24, 2023, Jeff Brumley

A multi-state campaign – Project Blitz – is the force behind many of the legislative efforts to promote Christian nationalism in American schools. The group operates behind the scenes in many statehouses. “They create model legislation for lawmakers to literally just copy, paste and file.”

“They and others…want to transform public schools into conservative Christian strongholds.” Other means of introducing Christian nationalism in the schools include book bans, school board takeovers and prohibitions of teaching about racial and LGBTQ issues.

‘The point is intimidation’: Florida teachers besieged by draconian laws

The Guardian, May 13, 2023, Steven Greenhouse

Teachers say they’re feeling more disrespected, unappreciated and under attack than ever before by new vague laws championed by Governor Ron DeSantis. They say that DeSantis has targeted them as part of a culture war and that, as a result, they’re considering either giving up teaching or finding a teaching job in another state.

Amanda Gorman’s inauguration poem restricted in FL after single parent complaint

LA Times, May 25, 2023, Emily St. Martin

A committee restricted “The Hill We Climb” to elementary school students in Miami-Dade County, FL based on a single complaint from a parent. “Book bans aren’t new but they have been on the rise — according to the [American Library Assn.], 40% more books were challenged in 2022 compared to 2021.”

Many parents who are objecting to books / filing complaints are not actually reading the books to which they are objecting. Instead, they are copying and pasting objections from such websites as Book Looks, which offers a boilerplate for parents to follow and was founded by a member of the Brevard County, Fla., chapter of the group Moms for Liberty.