Late last week, Justice was interviewed by MSNBC journalist Joy Reid on her show The ReidOut. Reid highlighted how M4L’s ethos of so-called “parental rights” doesn’t include the rights of LGBTQ parents and families, families of color, or any parents who want their children to receive an accurate, inclusive public school education. “You’re still trying to make decisions for all kids,” she told Justice, who repeatedly tried to talk over her.
Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice never answered why her group thinks “parents rights” gives them the right to remove books from schools that many other parents want their kids to read? The freedom to read is everyone’s right. pic.twitter.com/DBkSRLyhxf
— Suzanne Trimel (@STrimel) January 20, 2024
M4L is a driving force behind the surge in book bans nationwide, the majority of which target titles about LGBTQ people, race, and racism. The group’s leaders supported the passage of Florida’s anti-LGBTQ “Don’t Say Gay/Trans” law, which has led to an unprecedented deluge of book bans throughout the Sunshine State. M4L co-founder Bridget Ziegler claims to have authored the legislation, which was signed into law in 2022 by Florida Gov. and M4L ally Ron DeSantis.
As Reid pointed out, M4L is linked to BookLooks, a database used by book banners to quickly identify titles they want to target. Often, M4L members read graphic, out-of-context passages from these books at school board meetings to demand that they be stripped from library shelves. Members have also spread alarmist misinformation about drag story hours.
M4L’s pro-book ban, anti-LGBTQ agenda doesn’t reflect the views of most Americans, who overwhelmingly oppose book and curriculum bans in K-12 schools. Per reporting from The Washington Post, 11 people were responsible for about 60% of all U.S. book bans last year. A Tampa Bay Times investigation found that 600 of Florida’s challenges were instigated by two people, including a parent who objected to an Arthur book.
Florida Freedom to Read noted that one of the two prolific challengers, Bruce Friedman, already has a right to object to books his children have access to, and that it is absurd for two people to impose their objections on thousands of other people’s children. In addition, Clay County, FL, where Friedman is from, offers parents the option to opt their child out of having access to the library. To date, only six parents have done so, which Reid noted to Justice.
When asked why a handful of people “should get to decide what books tens of thousands of children get to read,” Justice deflected and falsely claimed that M4L isn’t a book-banning organization. She also singled out All Boys Aren’t Blue, George M. Johnson’s critically acclaimed memoir-manifesto about his experience growing up Black and queer.
“In what context is a XXXX-XX XXXXX acceptable for public school?”
Moms for Liberty co-founder @4TiffanyJustice joins Joy Reid on Moms for Liberty seeking influence over public school library content resulting in what many see as de facto book bans. MORE: https://t.co/KmNOB5voUw pic.twitter.com/BOzK3HNuIJ
— The ReidOut (@thereidout) January 20, 2024
Justice easily rattled off explicit acts mentioned in All Boys Aren’t Blue; however, she couldn’t cite the author’s name in full.
“This is a full-context story of the author’s experience,” Reid said. “Why is it your right, or any Moms for Liberty activist’s right, to say that a parent who wants their child to have access to this book… [doesn’t] have a right?”
Justice cofounded M4L in 2021 with Tina Descovich and Bridget Ziegler. Ziegler, a member of Florida’s Sarasota County School Board, is married to Christian Ziegler, former chairman of the Florida Republican Party. Last fall, Christian was accused of rape by a woman who previously had consensual threesomes with Bridget and Christian. (He has since been cleared of the rape allegations, although he is still facing video voyeurism charges.) The accusations led to Christian’s removal from his prominent role in Florida politics.
Bridget, who left M4L in the spring of 2021, was not named in any of the complaints against her husband. However, as Reid noted, her hypocrisy as an anti-LGBTQ public figure has prompted widespread calls for her to resign. The Sarasota County School Board even voted 4-1 in favor of her removal.
Florida activist and GLAAD 20 Under 20 honoree Zander Moricz delivered a moving statement on the topic, noting how Bridget has used her power to “remove books from schools, target trans and queer children, erase Black history, and elevate your political career — all while sending your children to private schools because you don’t believe in the public school system that you’ve been leading.” Despite these ongoing demands, Bridget has refused to step down.
As M4L’s extremist views gain notoriety, its influence appears to be waning. Most M4L-aligned candidates nationwide were defeated in last November’s school board elections. Throughout the country, pro-equality parents and educators are pushing back against M4L’s presence in their communities.
The GLAAD Accountability Project is tracking Moms for Liberty’s anti-LGBTQ record here.