MOMS FOR LIBERTY
Moms for Liberty is a far-right organization that engages in anti-student inclusion activities and self-identifies as part of the modern parental rights movement. The group grew out of opposition to public health regulations for COVID-19, opposes LGBTQ+ and racially inclusive school curriculum, and has advocated books bans.
Moms for Liberty is an antigovernment organization founded in 2021 by former Florida school board members, Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich. Current Sarasota County, Florida school board member, Bridget Ziegler, was also a co-founder. She has since left the group, leaving Justice and Descovich at the helm.
Moms for Liberty and its nationwide chapters combat what they consider the "woke indoctrination" of children by advocating for book bans in school libraries and endorsing candidates for public office that align with the group's views. They also use their multiple social media platforms to target teachers and school officials, advocate for the abolition of the Department of Education, advance a conspiracy propaganda, and spread hateful imagery and rhetoric against the LGBTQ community.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
"The K-12 Cartel - also known as the National Teachers Union (NEA) - met and drafted a proposal to replace the word 'Mother' with 'Birthing Person.' This is insane and insulting to every mom in America. But don't worry, relief is coming...Because as the Teachers Union pushes an agenda focused on everything BUT educating our children, American Parents are rising up, taking back our school districts and putting the focus back on educating our children. To be clear - You will not be seeing 'Moms for Liberty' rebranded as 'Birthing Persons for Liberty' anytime soon."
— Tiffany Justice, Moms for Liberty on Fox News on July 7, 2022
"Gender dysphoria is a mental health disorder that is being normalized by predators across the USA. California kids are at extreme risk from predatory adults. Now they want to ‘liberate’ children all over the country. Does a double mastectomy on a preteen sound like progress?"
— Tweet from Moms for Liberty on July 25, 2022, tweet regarding California SB 107 gender transition bill that got their account suspended.
"If I had any mental issues, they would have been plowed down with a gun by now."
— Melissa “Missy” Bosch (Lonoke County, AR Chapter) was indicted for terroristic threatening towards the faculty and staff of Cabot School district. She was recorded musing about gunning down a school librarian.
"The children are confused...because of these insane agendas that are being shoved down their throats…Even the shooter — what, an 18-year-old transgender boy trying to be a girl?"
— Eulalia Jimenez (chair of Moms for Liberty, Miami Chapter) spreading disinformation about the Uvalde, TX shooter
"We’ve got $500 for the person that first successfully catches a public school teacher breaking this law. Student, parents, teachers, school staff…We want to know! We pledge anonymity if you want."
— Tweeted by Moms for Liberty NH on November 12, 2021, regarding the law banning the teaching of CRT and retweeted by national Moms for Liberty.
"Is this an example of Munchausen syndrome by proxy?"
— Comment and retweet by main Moms for Liberty account; Tiffany Justice Tweet (Moms for Liberty Cofounder) re: a mother discussing her 4-year-old “exploring his gender.”
"My line in the sand is calling a singular human “they/them.” Go ahead and call me mean names. I can take it."
— Retweeted by main Moms for Liberty account; Tweet by Tina Descovich (Moms for Liberty Cofounder) regarding pronouns in the workplace.
"I raise my children. The government does not. We do not co-parent with the government. And there are certain sensitive subjects that we would like to be directing the conversation around for our children…Parents are very concerned about this idea about gender identity that was never discussed in our public schools, and it is now taking a front row seat in our children's education. And it is affecting everything they do, including for many of our girls, how safe they feel in the bathrooms at their school."
— Tiffany Justice in C-SPAN2 About Books interview
"Due to threats from the left, we made the decision to move all future Moms for Liberty meetings to DCF Guns East upstairs conf room. It is safe, impenetrable by protestors or otherwise. Now WE have a #safespace as the libs call it. Thank you to DCF. See you this Tues @ DCF 5:30P."
— Tweet from Darcy Schoening, Chair of Moms for Liberty – El Paso County, CO commenting on moving Mom of Liberty meeting to the gun range is co-owned by Joe Oltmann.
“The kids that do have their, you know, they’re confused, or they are gay or whatnot that the way they’re trying to go about it is to make it an open conversation and an open thing in classrooms…But like for example children with autism, Down Syndrome, they have to have special IP meetings with a counselor, they have to be put into separate classrooms. I understand, because it’s a different type of education for children with those disabilities, but I think that for children that identify differently, there should also be like a specialized… something for them, so that they feel that they’re important enough that they’re being counseled…I think for the same reason why teachers wouldn’t just bring a child with autism in front of the class and be like, hey, he’s got autism. Embarrassment…”
— Crystal Alonso (member of Moms for Liberty, Miami-Dade County, FL) discussing the need for special classes for LGBTQ students
Moms for Liberty is an anti-student inclusion group that presents itself as a modern parents' rights organization that seeks to "unify, educate, and empower parents to defend and protect their parental rights at every level of government." The group’ website appears to align with this mission, featuring general information about the organization and its chapters, resources for parents, and links to press skewed in the group's favor. The social media accounts and real-world activity of the national organization and its chapters reflect views and actions that are antigovernment and conspiracy propagandist, anti-LGBTQ and anti-gender identity, and anti-inclusive curriculum.
According to Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice, when COVID-19 swept the nation and public-school children were homeschooled for an extensive period of time, "the country got to see behind the education curtain and were not pleased." However, when parents went to their school boards to voice concerns, they were "shut down and silenced."
Moms for Liberty was originally established to combat what it considered controversial COVID-19 safety measures in schools, mostly centered around masking. From there, it quickly expanded its focus to include an extreme stance on what it considers the indoctrination and sexualization of children through gender identity, the acknowledgement and acceptance of the LGBTQ community, as well as inclusive school pedagogy and curricula, including critical race theory, social emotional learning, and books that the organization deems inappropriate.
SPREADING LIKE HELLFIRE
In January 2021, Moms for Liberty made its national debut on the Rush Limbaugh show. By the end of the next month, the organization had five chapters in Florida and had garnered attention from Breitbart and Tucker Carlson Tonight.
According to Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich, the organization was established with the intention to remain within Florida. However, two weeks after launching the initial chapters, a mother from Nassau County, New York reached out interested in starting a chapter where she lived. Descovich recalls co-founder Tiffany Justice saying to her, "Tina, this movement doesn't belong to us. We can't control it. We can't contain it. All we can do is help."
The chapters, which are structured by county, have since grown rapidly nationwide. Within two years of the organization's founding, it self-reports a membership of approximately 110,000 in over 250 chapters in 42 states.
Between June 2021 and January 2022, Moms for Liberty hosted high-priced fundraisers that featured former FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly and musicians Larry Gatlin and John Rich.
In July 2022, Moms for Liberty held its first national summit in Tampa, FL. Speakers included Dr. Ben Carson, FL Gov. Ron DeSantis and his wife, Betsey DeVos, former FL governor and US
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Dr. James Lindsay , and KrisAnne Hall, among many others. Marriott International, which openly supports the LGBTQ community and its causes, received criticism for hosting the summit because of Moms for Liberty's openly anti-LGBTQ stance, as well as those of the speakers included on the program, including Ron DeSantis, who had recently signed Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill into law, which the group publicly lobbied in favor of.
Although ticket prices for the fundraisers ranged from $50 to $20,000 and the highest sponsorship package of the sold-out summit was $50,000, when asked about how the organization is funded, the group claimed that t-shirt sales were its "biggest source of funding."
Since its inception, the group has encouraged its chapters and members to become watchdogs and gain positions in local school districts, usually by seeking open school board seats, in order to stop what it describes as school districts disregarding the opinions of parents and "abdicating their authority to bureaucrats, to medical committees, to Departments of Health to other people where the decision making really did lie with the school board local control."
To aid in this goal, the group has hosted online and in-person school board trainings in partnership with the Leadership Institute. Additionally, during the national summit in 2022, a special session was offered on how to build and run a school board campaign.
In December 2021, Moms for Liberty created a political action committee, which received a contribution of $50,000 from Julie Fancelli, heiress to the Publix grocery stores. This donation contributed significantly to the organization's ability to help fund 2022 school board campaigns, accordingto a co-founder who spoke to Politico.
In 2022, Moms for Liberty endorsed over 500 school board candidates across the country. Of this, 76% were first-time candidates. This activity was part was the organization’s stated goal to have a foothold in all 13,000 school districts in the United States.
FIGHTING INDOCTRINATION WITH INDOCTRINATION
In its efforts to combat anything that it considers "woke ideology," Moms for Liberty commonly propagates conspiracy theories about public schools attempting to indoctrinate and sexualize children with a progressive Marxist curriculum.
As self-anointed "joyful warriors," Moms for Liberty has adopted the slogan, "we do not co-parent with the government," which adorns their lawn signs and merchandise sold on the website.
Despite the background of its founding members serving on various boards of education, Moms for Liberty has taken a stance that is firmly anti-public school.
Tiffany Justice explained in an interview that because public schools are funded by the government, they are government schools. "So, if you don't go to private school, you're going to a government school. And then you have these employees who have to have a state certificate working at these government schools or government employees."
Throughout its existence, Moms for Liberty has also waged war on teachers’ unions, referring to them as a terrorist organization and criticizing their stances and influence in public schools. In the past, a number of Moms for Liberty chapters saw their Facebook pages flagged for "community violation," which prohibit accounts from "posting basic information about local government operations such as school board meetings, or questions about student textbooks."12 The group subsequently appealed with an open letter to Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerburg, asking him not to side with the National Education Association who were seeking to label concerned parents as "domestic terrorists."
Perhaps most importantly of note in their war against public schools and those who support them is Moms for Liberty’s fight to have the Department of Education eliminated. Advocacy for abolishing the Department of Education has been a common cause of antigovernmentorganizations, from the John Birch Society to the Constitution Party. Former U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsey DeVos was a featured speaker at the first Moms for Liberty Summit, where she stated, “I personally think that the Department of Education should not exist.” A still of this was posted to the organization’s website as a teaser to invite followers to view further content from the Summit.
Speaking at the Family Research Council’s 2021 Pray Vote Stand Summit, Moms for Liberty spokesperson, Quisha King, called for a "mass exodus” from public schools. The sentiments came during a panel discussion entitled "Fighting Indoctrination on a National Scale."
ATTACKS ON THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY
Moms for Liberty's attack on the LGBTQ community and their rights has been particularly focused on gender identity and the use of pronouns in schools, the transgender community and gender affirming care, and the proposed changes to Title IX, which would expand rights to the LGBTQ community.
As close followers and promoters of speaker Dr. James Lindsay, the group also elevates the term "groomer," referring to a person who builds a relationship with a child to sexualize them. A critical race theory-critic and favorite of the organization, Lindsay has appeared at events and is often shared by the group’s members and officials. Lindsay also pushes theories regarding the ways that Marxists indoctrinate children. Lindsay, an admitted Christian nationalist, was made famous for coining the term "ok groomer," which subsequently led to a lifetime Twitter ban in August 2022. Moms for Liberty adopted the term "groomer," employing it in Twitter posts. However, once the social media platform outlawed the use of term in July 2022, the group expressed its displeasure, posting a video of "Relatable" with Allie Beth Stuckey on the group’s national website. In the video, entitled “The Left's 'Don't Say Groomer’ Policy,” the host says, "Twitter and Reddit are censoring the word groomer to describe adults who talk to children about gender switching and sexuality. What else are we supposed to call them?"
Moms for Liberty Miami-Dade County member, Crystal Alonso also suggested moving LGBTQ students to separate classrooms, comparing them to students with special needs, saying, "for example children with autism, Down Syndrome, they have to have special IP meetings with a counselor, they have to be put into separate classrooms. I understand, because it’s a different type of education for children with those disabilities, but I think that for children that identify differently, there should also be like a specialized… something for them, so that they feel that they’re important enough that they’re being counseled."
Moms for Liberty’s stance against gender identity and LGBTQ rights has continuously increased and begun to expand outside of its original public-school focus. The organization has posted resources and done numerous interviews discussing its extreme aversion to gender identity. Its social media pages feature an increasing number of posts surrounding this topic. In July 2022, the organization’s Twitter account was temporarily suspended for violating the social media platform’s rule against hateful conduct. The post about California’s gender transition bill read:
"Gender dysphoria is a mental health disorder that is being normalized by predators across the USA. California kids are at extreme risk from predatory adults. Now they want to ‘liberate’ children all over the country. Does a double mastectomy on a preteen sound like progress?”
The organization has openly expressed opposition to the current administration's proposed changes to Title IX, which would provide more rights and accessibilities to the LGBTQ community. Specific grievances include biological males being allowed to play in girls' sports, restrooms not being based on biological sex, and students and teachers being punished for sexual harassment if they use the incorrect pronoun. Moms for Liberty has encouraged members and social media followers to submit public comments to the government page.
Moms for Liberty has also set its sights on the community at large, waging war on companies that are LGBTQ-friendly and supporting anti-LGBTQ legislation. In Florida, for instance, where Disney spoke out publicly against the governor's "Don't Say Gay" bill, Moms for Liberty co-founder, Tiffany Justice said that stated that she would boycott the company, saying, "it seems Disney is OK with sexualizing our children."
Moms for Liberty Yellowstone County chapter, along with MassResistanceand other anti-LGBTQ groups, supported Montana House Bill 359, also known as "Prohibit minors from attending drag shows.
In July 2022, Moms for Liberty was temporarily banned from Twitter for speaking out against California SB107, focusing on gender-affirming health care. The group expressed that gender dysphoria was a mental health disorder and gender transition was being normalized by predators. Moms for Liberty went on to join groups such as in writing to California governor, Gavin Newsome, indicating their concerns with the bill, stating that it violated parental rights and made "California akin to the Pied Piper, enticing minor children nationwide to leave their families and run away in pursuit of harmful drugs and sterilizing surgeries.
In addition to fighting mask and COVID mandates, opposition to inclusive curriculum is at the core of Moms for Liberty's infrastructure. Their attack on critical race theory and social emotion learning has put them in the spotlight at school board meetings across the country.
Moms for Liberty has been a strong proponent in the push to keep new equity and inclusion from entering public schools and remove any existing opportunities. The group has also been strong supporters of the wave of anti-CRT bills sweeping the country and key actors in the sharp increase in book bans occurring in schools and libraries.
Moms for Liberty leaders and members often share and quote some of the most controversial figures in the fight against critical race theory, including the Manhattan Institute's Chris Rufo, who is often credited with inciting the right's panic over CRT.
Moms for Liberty's firm stance on what it deems critical race theory in school curriculum, has led many of its chapters to file complaints against anti-CRT bills and also ban books that they believe sexual children and contain CRT material.
In 2021, a Tennessee chapter of Moms for Liberty was the first to file a complaint under the state’s new anti-CRT bill. The chapter took issue with a book by Ruby Bridges on her experiences integrating a school and also one on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which they called, “Anti-American, Anti-White, and Anti-Mexican.” In their opinion, these books focused too much on the negatives of history and would prefer that their children’s schools have books that focus on heroes like Clarence Thomas, Morgan Freeman, and Condoleezza Rice. The chapter specifically took issue with Bridges recollections of a White mob yelling at her on her way to school and pictures of firemen hosing Black children in the MLK March on Washington.
Instead, Moms for Liberty recommended using The Making of America to teach history. This 1985 book by conspiracy theorist and John Birch Societysupporter W. Cleon Skousen portrays slave owners as the "worst victims of slavery" and claims that although the Founders wanted to free slaves, most slaves were unprepared for lives of freedom.
When an anti-CRT bill went into place in New Hampshire, the Moms for Liberty chapter there announced a reward of $500 if someone could catch a teacher breaking the law. The Tweet announcing this was retweeted by the national organization.
Moms for Liberty has been at the forefront of the battle for book bans, which often includes labeling teachers and librarians who have books deemed inappropriate as groomers and also reading excerpts of books aloud without context at school board meetings to raise alarm in other parents.
In an extreme case, a Lonoke County, an AR chapter Moms for Liberty member was recorded during a meeting saying about a local school library, "I’m telling you, if I had any mental issues, they would all be plowed down by a freaking gun right now.” She was subsequently banned from school grounds.
In addition to falling in line with James Lindsay's groomer rhetoric and Chris Rufo's CRT attacks, Moms for Liberty has not only developed but leveraged its close political alliances and ties to extremist groups to broaden its reach and spread its messages of anti-inclusion and hate.
This has been done in tandem with an effort to publicly rebrand the organization and appeal to a less radical audience. Although the group got its start on some of the most right-wing media outlets, it has since removed these press releases and appearances from its website, including the Glenn Beck Program, Breitbart, and the Rush Limbaugh Show.
Within Moms for Liberty's web of political allies are a number of connections to antigovernment groups, White nationalists, election deniers, and participants in January 6th events.
Moms for Liberty has been publicly supported by several conservative groups and politicians, including FL Gov. Ron DeSantis, who officially endorsed several of the organization’s members running for school board positions in Florida — unprecedented in the state's non-partisan school board elections. He also publicly commented on the group’s suspension from PayPal, stating that he planned to crack down on “woke banking.”
The political action committee that allowed Moms for Liberty to support so many candidates during the 2022 midterm election cycle was mostly funded by a $50,000 gift from Publix grocery store heiress, Julie Fancelli, who also financed one of the rallies leading up to the January 6th storming of the Capitol Complex.
Alexis Speigelman, Moms for Liberty's legislative chair and chair of the Sarasota County chapter, was among "Stop the Steal" organizer, Roger Stone's allies who planned a caravan to Florida U.S. Sen. Rick Scott's house with the goal of demanding that he challenge President Biden's presidential victory.
An even deeper connection is Bridget Ziegler and her husband, Christian, vice-chair of the Florida Republican party. Christian was at January 6thevents but claimed that he was so far away that he only saw people waving flags. He never saw "anyone entering the Capitol or breaking stuff.”
In 2021, Christian told the Washington Post that he felt an alliance with Moms for Liberty would be crucial to Gov. DeSantis' re-election campaign, saying, "“I have been trying for a dozen years to get 20- and 30-year-old females involved with the Republican Party, and it was a heavy lift to get that demographic. But now Moms for Liberty has done it for me." Although Bridget Ziegler has officially left Moms for Liberty, she also still has ties to the group, having been a featured speaker at their national summit. She also helped develop DeSantis' "Don't Say Gay" bill that Moms for Liberty publicly advocated in favor of.
The national organization and individual chapters have ties with groups that SPLC has designated as hate or extremist.
One of the most notable connections is the association with several chapters with the Proud Boys, a White nationalist group. Pictures have circulated across social media of Moms for Liberty leaders and members posing with Proud Boys in their full regalia.
Bridget Ziegler was recently elected to the Sarasota County school board – a victory due in part to local Proud Boys, who she was pictured celebratingwith afterwards. She later attempted to downplay the connection.
Moms for Liberty also teamed up with the controversial group, Gays Against Groomers, to host an anti-LGBTQ "Protect the Children" rally in Florida, which also included Proud Boys flashing White power signs.
Some areas of Illinois have exhibited an intersectionality with hate groups. Shannon Adcock, chair of Moms for Liberty DuPage County also leads Awake Illinois, a group that shares many of Moms for Liberty’s views on anti-LGBTQ. Under her guidance, the two groups have collaborated on a number of efforts, including a "Pro-Child Stand Up" rally against gender ideology and gender affirming care that featured James Lindsay, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice. The two groups have also teamed up with local Proud Boys to host anti- LGBTQ programs.
Some Moms for Liberty members have turned to law enforcement for support, specifically members of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA). Some Moms for Liberty member have called on the sheriffs, claiming "sex crimes," further feeding their narrative of children being sexualized and also pushing into the area of QAnon conspiracies of children being groomed by progressives.
When Jennifer Pippin, chair of the Indian River County, Florida chapter of Moms for Liberty, discovered that books flagged as inappropriate their group members were still in the local school's library, she filed a criminal complaint with the local sheriff, who began an investigation. Sheriffs in other Florida counties have started similar investigations as well, with Gov. DeSantis' blessing.
As members of CSPOA and Moms for Liberty find themselves aligning on issues such as mask and vaccine mandates and election fraud conspiracies, they further develop alliances to help one another. As sheriffs begin to launch criminal investigations on behalf of Moms for Liberty, many sheriffs running for office are asking Moms for Liberty chapters to campaign for them.
Moms for Liberty witnessed virtual overnight success due in part to its affiliations with right-wing media, politicians, and extremist groups alike. Now pegged as the sweethearts of the parental rights movement, the group's dangerous reach into education and politics can be seen across the country in its 250+ chapters. According to co-founder, Tiffany Justice, "there are a little over 3,000 counties in the United States and we hope to have a chapter in every county."
The Indian River County chapter furthered its antigovernment interests, supporting county officials’ decision to make it a "second amendment sanctuary," citing the Constitution as justification. By adopting this designation, Indian River County prohibits gun control measures, mostly on the rationale that they would infringe on second amendment rights.