Since 2022, anti-LGBTQ book bans have proliferated in schools and communities throughout the United States. Moms for Liberty (M4L), an anti-LGBTQ extremist group that bills itself as a so-called “parental rights” organization, is a driving force behind this alarming trend targeting books about LGBTQ people, people of color, and race and racism.
GLAAD is tracking M4L’s anti-LGBTQ record and ties to national anti-LGBTQ groups. The group self-reports more than 130,000 members in county-specific chapters across 48 states.
In states like Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and California, local M4L chapters have campaigned to nix inclusive titles from public school curricula and libraries under the false pretense of “protecting” children. Their tactics include infiltrating local school boards, which can implement library and curriculum policies, and “flooding” district leaders with incessant requests to ban certain books.
Since the group’s launch in 2021, Moms for Liberty leaders and members have also:
- Created and circulated a 111-page book ban guidance, which contains blatant disinformation and singles out many titles about LGBTQ people and people of color
- Championed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ 2022 “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” censorship law, which was later expanded and has now prompted a flood of new book bans
- Held a talk with Alabama state Rep. Mack Butler, who wants to expand the state’s copycat “Don’t Say LGBTQ” law to encompass all grades, and indicated support for adding language to restrict curricula about race and religion
- Pushed to ban books about the U.S. civil rights movement, Jewish diarist Anne Frank, and racial justice activists like Martin Luther King, Jr., effectively censoring historical events
- Allied with the anti-transgender group Gays Against Groomers to promote book bans
- Spread disinformation about Black queer author George M. Johnson’s critically acclaimed memoir All Boys Aren’t Blue
- Spread disinformation about drag queen story hours
On the national level, M4L has ties to BookLooks — a database that misrepresents LGBTQ-inclusive books as “objectionable” and was created to enable book bans — and BRAVE Book Fairs, a far-right book company. M4L heavily pushes BRAVE Books as an alternative to Scholastic Book Fairs, targeting the company’s inclusion of diverse titles with flagrantly anti-LGBTQ social media materials.
According to a recent PEN America report, 81 percent of school districts that banned books between July 2022 and June 2023 are within or adjoined to a county with a local chapter of an extremist group like Moms for Liberty. Florida — where M4L was founded and maintains sizable influence — has overwhelmingly banned the most books out of any state in the U.S.
In many communities nationwide, parent- and educator-led groups like STOP Moms for “Liberty” and Red Wine & Blue are countering M4L’s book ban efforts. Local chapters of STOP Moms have protested outside M4L events and spearheaded virtual campaigns to raise awareness about the group’s extremist views. As STOP Moms for “Liberty” founder Liz Mikitarian notes on the group’s website, “Book banning is a strategy used throughout history to silence voices. Our children deserve to have a variety of reading experiences without opinionated oversight.”
Red Wine & Blue has also developed digital resources for families who are concerned about the presence of groups like M4L in their communities.
On Election Day next Tuesday, November 7, school districts in 16 states will hold school board elections. If your community is one of them, be sure to research every candidate in the running, and check to see if they are endorsed by M4L. All endorsees must complete a questionnaire indicating if they support “curated” public school libraries — in other words, banning LGBTQ and racially inclusive books.