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Moms for Liberty
- Updated: November 30, 2023
Moms For Liberty (M4L) was founded in January 2021 claiming it will “organize, educate and empower parents to defend their parental rights.” This advocacy has included calls for book bans, classroom censorship, and bans on teaching about slavery, race, racism and LGBTQ people and history. Moms for Liberty bills itself as a “grassroots organization of moms,” but its founders and founding chapter have strong ties to high-ranking elected officials and financial support from national anti-LGBTQ groups including the Heritage Foundation. (Founders Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich pictured above.)
—A June 2023 Vice News investigation reported multiple Moms for Liberty chapters’ connections to the Proud Boys, a violent white nationalist group with factions throughout the country. In November 2023, two Moms for Liberty chapter leaders in Kentucky were photographed posing with known members of the Proud Boys. M4L tweeted it is “in no way” affiliated with the Proud Boys. Moms for Liberty founder Bridget Ziegler’s campaign for school board was also supported by local Proud Boys members.
—In the November 2023 general election, about 70% of Moms for Liberty-endorsed candidates were defeated in local school board races throughout the U.S. The group informally backed candidates in other races, including two hotly contested elections in Pennsylvania. Most of M4L’s candidates lost their races, including 12 of 13 in Iowa and 10 of 12 in Ohio, in part because of grassroots counter-activism from parents and educators. While M4L claims to be about “parents’ rights,” polling shows the majority of parents nationwide oppose book and curriculum bans in schools urged by the group.
—In June 2023, Moms for Liberty’s Hamilton County chapter launched a newsletter that quoted Adolph Hitler on the cover.
—In June 2023, Moms for Liberty was designated an “extremist group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization that monitors hate groups and extremism in the United States. The SPLC noted the group uses “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.”
—Tweeted, “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 tweet, regarding California Senate Bill 107, got their account temporarily suspended. Healthcare for transgender people and youth is supported by every major U.S. medical association and leading world health authority.
—Eulalia Jimenez, chair of Moms for Liberty, Miami Chapter, spread disinformation about a shooting massacre falsely identifying the Uvalde, TX, elementary school shooter who killed 19 children and two adults, as a trans woman.
—Crystal Alonso, member of Moms for Liberty, Miami-Dade County, FL, says LGBTQ students should be separated into their own special class: “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 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 …”
—Lied to the parents of a young person that the Rainbow Youth Project, an organization promoting the health, safety, and wellness of LGBTQ youth, was trying to “convince [their child] to have his private parts removed and changed.”
—Collaborated with Gays Against Groomers, a group that promotes false and harmful “groomer” rhetoric against transgender people. In 2022, the groups hosted an anti-LGBTQ “Protect the Children” rally in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Members of the Proud Boys were reportedly in attendance.
—Made false and inflammatory claims about the “woke indoctrination” of LGBTQ and ally middle schoolers in Seattle, WA, who penned letters to their local Moms for Liberty chapter demanding that they “stop bullying” LGBTQ students.
—Behavior by Moms for Liberty members at a school board meeting in Wauwatosa County, WI, prompted increased police presence. Moms for Liberty and Gays Against Groomers members reportedly falsely “accused attendees of being groomers” and “brought a 10-year-old student to tears.”
—The chairperson of the Monroe County, PA, chapter was arrested on a “summary charge of harassment” after allegedly repeatedly harassing an individual with messages.
—The head of communications of the Lonoke County, AR, chapter threatened gun violence against librarians.
—Ed Kelley, a Moms for Liberty-affiliated Charleston County School Board (SC) member, attended a Moms for Liberty meeting and publicly stated that he would bring a gun to the home of his child’s teacher if the teacher came out as trans.
—Hosted its first national summit and included Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has instigated and signed into state law multiple bills targeting LGBTQ people and youth access to essential healthcare, school sports, bathrooms, and discussion of LGBTQ people in classrooms K-12. Former Governor and current Senator Rick Scott, former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and anti-LGBTQ activist groups like Turning Point USA, the Leadership Institute, and Heritage Action, and the evangelical Liberty University were also in attendance. M4L’s 2023 summit in Philadelphia featured a similar slate of prominent anti-LGBTQ politicians, including DeSantis, Nikki Haley, and former President Donald Trump. All three are running for president in 2024. The event also platformed James Lindsay, who has been described as an anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theorist by the SPLC.
—Falsely claiming it stands “against government overreach and intimidation tactics,” while attempting to ban books about Martin Luther King Jr., Ruby Bridges, and Black and queer memoir All Boys Aren’t Blue. Supporters including Florida state representative Randy Fine posted a school board member’s cell phone number on Facebook. A school board member who defeated one of the founders of Moms for Liberty says opponents filed a false claim of child abuse against her, and protestors shouted at her five year old child outside her home.
—School board member details how Moms for Liberty targeted county guidelines to protect students’ right to dress and use bathrooms according to the gender they identify with, falsely calling school board members “pedophiles.”
—Founder Tiffany Justice supports Florida “Don’t Say Gay/Trans” censorship law, falsely and disingenuously claiming “nothing about the bill says anything about gay or straight.” Text of the bill shows it prohibits discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity. Justice also fails to provide evidence to support her claims of “indoctrination” in schools, and defames those who support children being able to discuss their LGBTQ family or identities as “groomers.”
—Offers bounties to encourage people to report on teachers who discuss so-called “divisive concepts” including discrimination based on sex or race.
—Spreads inaccurate and inflammatory claims about LGBTQ books, including the memoir of Black and queer author George M. Johnson All Boys Aren’t Blue, for so-called “racially charged commentary” and “alternate gender ideologies” as well as sexually explicit passages, alcohol and drug use, and profanity. Johnson’s book was named a 2020 Best Book of the Year by Amazon, the New York and Chicago public libraries and Kirkus Reviews.
—A Moms for Liberty chapter in Brevard County, Florida, is chaired by a business owner known for refusing to serve same-sex couples.
—A Texas Moms for Liberty chapter announced it would host anti-LGBTQ activist Kelly Neidert at its July 25 meeting. Neidert is well-known in the greater Dallas area for harassing local LGBTQ events including story hours for children, protesting outside of a medical center that treats transgender patients, and being permanently suspended from Twitter for tweeting “Let’s start rounding up people who participate in Pride events” in addition to repeated misgendering and anti-trans rhetoric. Neidert’s targeting of transgender people led more than 21,000 people to sign a petition created by her fellow students at the University of North Texas calling for her expulsion from the school.
—A Tennessee Moms For Liberty chapter shared video of a school Pride club Homecoming float. Local community members said the video outed some students and put their safety at risk. Moms for Liberty claimed the float featured “two girls kissing” and “groping,” and accused the group of “encouraging bisexuality” by handing out National Bi Week awareness flyers. Moms for Liberty also criticized the school district for asking middle and high school students for their pronouns and falsely claimed of LGBTQ-inclusive clubs: “Our schools are on a slippery slope in the sexualization of children.”
—Tweeted “gender identity indoctrination” is one of the most dangerous threats facing children in America today. The CDC reported that one in four LGBTQ teens attempted suicide in 2021, with half of LGBTQ teens considering suicide. Research shows adults using a trans youth’s authentic name and pronouns improves mental health and reduces suicidal ideation. 36% of LGBTQ youth reported being physically threated or harmed due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
—Pushed for bans on discussions of racism and LGBTQ content in schools. In Alabama, for instance, a local chapter hosted a meeting with state Rep. Mack Butler to discuss expanding the state’s copycat of Florida’s “Don’t Say LGBTQ” law to encompass grades K–12. M4L’s messaging indicates interest in banning books about “religion” and “race.”
Funding and political support:
—Founded by Bridget Ziegler, a candidate for Sarasota County School Board, who is married to County Commissioner and Vice Chair of the Republican Party of Florida, Christian Ziegler, who attended the rally that preceded the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Bridget’s school board candidacy has been endorsed by anti-LGBTQ Governor DeSantis, and she appeared with DeSantis as he signed the “Don’t Say LGBTQ” bill into law, at a private school that would not be subject to the law. Although Bridget has since left M4L, she maintains close ties to the so-called “parental rights” movement, and to DeSantis. In 2023, he appointed her to serve on a state board overseeing Disney, which was formed to push back against the company for expressing its support of LGBTQ equality.
—Other founders, former school board members Tina Descovich of Brevard County and Tiffany Justice of Indian River County, have amplified false claims against evidence-based healthcare for trans youth, and harmful “groomer” rhetoric. Descovich has spread misinformation about trans youth. In 2023, DeSantis chose Descovich to serve on Florida’s state ethics commission, a role that empowers her to target LGBTQ state employees.
—Despite describing itself as a “grassroots organization of Moms,” Moms for Liberty has close ties to national right-wing media. The group was featured on The Rush Limbaugh Show, Breitbart, and Tucker Carlson Tonight within two months of its formation. Per Media Matters’ reporting, M4L removed press releases about these early media hits from its website. In June 2021, the group also held a preliminary fundraiser that featured former Fox News host Megyn Kelly.
—Per tax filings obtained by the Associated Press, Moms for Liberty reported $2.1 million in revenue in 2022, the bulk of which came from two anonymous mega-donors. In 2021, the organization’s total revenue was $370,000.
—In 2022, Moms for Liberty received a $25,000 grant from the Heritage Foundation, an anti-LGBTQ nonprofit that opposes marriage equality, LGBTQ parenting, and healthcare for trans youth. Additionally, M4L was awarded $100,000 in funding from the George Jenkins Foundation, a conservative foundation that backs other anti-LGBTQ organizations, including the Alliance Defending Freedom. The foundation is led by Publix heiress Julie Fancelli, a conservative political donor who reportedly helped finance the aforementioned January 2021 rally at the Capitol. In June 2023, Fancelli herself made the first large donation ($50,000) to M4L’s PAC. The Leadership Institute, a conservative political organization that trained the likes of former Vice President Mike Pence, also claimed it was the “top sponsor” of M4L’s 2022 national summit. M4L founder Bridget Ziegler serves in a leadership role at the organization.
—Moms for Liberty’s Executive Director of Program Development, Marie Rogerson, is a campaign consultant who previously worked for Rep. Randy Fine, who has widely spread anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and supported anti-LGBTQ bills including the “Don’t Say LGBTQ” law, and pushed for bans on life-saving, evidence-based healthcare for transgender youth.
The GLAAD Accountability Project catalogs anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and discriminatory actions of politicians, commentators, organization heads, religious leaders, and legal figures, who have used their platforms, influence and power to spread misinformation and harm LGBTQ people.
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