For the first time, the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified the virulently anti-LGBTQ+ Moms for Liberty as an “extremist” group.
The watchdog organization tracks and designates hate groups around the country and recently released the 2022 edition of its The Year in Hate and Extremism report. This edition names the Florida-based Moms for Liberty as the group “at the forefront” of the “mobilization” of right-wing extremist groups claiming to fight for “parents’ rights” in schools at the local level.
The administration even apologized to the hate group and cancelled the book-reading.
“They can be spotted at school board meetings across the country wearing shirts and carrying signs that declare, ‘We do NOT CO-PARENT with the GOVERNMENT,'” the report states. “The group hijacks meetings, preventing officials and parents from conducting their normal proceedings. ‘I can be sitting in a meeting minding my own business, and they turn around and scream at me that I am a commie and teachers want to see all kids fail,’ a teacher’s union president in Brevard County, Florida, explained to a Washington Post reporter.”
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The report acknowledged that riling up conservatives by espousing “family values” and “parental rights” is not in and of itself a new tactic, but says, “Moms for Liberty activities make it clear that the group’s primary goals are to fuel right-wing hysteria and to make the world a less comfortable place for certain students – primarily those are are Black, LGBTQ, or who come from LGBTQ families.”
In May, the leader of a Colorado chapter of Moms for Liberty claimed teachers unions and President Joe Biden are deliberately trying to turn kids LGBTQ+ in order to break down the family and traditional conservative values.
And this month, the chair of a Florida chapter forced a school to remove two yearbook pages that acknowledged the school’s LGBTQ+ club and defined common queer terms.
As of late, Florida Gov. and 2024 presidential candidate Ron DeSantis (R) has been helping Moms for Liberty members get elected to local school boards in his state. The newly seated board members have been repaying DeSantis by advocating for book bans and ousting school officials who dared defy his orders against school mask mandates during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overall, the report explained that we are in the midst of a “reactionary political moment” in which the right is reacting to real and perceived progressive success.
“The right is increasingly expressing fear of a so-called ‘great replacement’ of white people and depicting demands for LGBTQ equity as dangerously radical in the wake of visible progressive mobilizations,” the report explained, “including the racial justice protests of 2020 for Black lives and a growing trans rights movement.”
It explained backlash as a political strategy the right uses to shift the focus from marginalized groups to the perceived threat those in power feel from social change.