High-profile school board elections in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio saw pro-equality candidates triumph over M4L’s camp. In fact, despite major funding obstacles, progressive candidates flipped M4L-controlled boards in Pennsylvania’s Central Bucks and Pennridge school districts — two big wins that came out of grassroots counter-activism from outraged parents in these communities.
Major news for trans students in PA! Dems have swept all Central Bucks County school district races!
In 2021, Moms 4 Liberty took over the district and passed brutal anti-trans policies.
Anti-trans politics do not win elections, at least not in Bucks County. pic.twitter.com/GBiFtX3gQF
— Erin Reed (@ErinInTheMorn) November 8, 2023
Moms for Liberty endorsees and supporters leverage local school boards to implement anti-LGBTQ policies, such as forcibly outing transgender students to their parents and banning inclusive books in schools. The group’s anti-LGBTQ agenda doesn’t reflect the views of most Americans, who overwhelmingly oppose the politicization of classrooms. Increasingly, parents, families, and educators are mobilizing on the local level to push back against M4L. Their successes show what’s possible when everyday people rise up to counter extremism.
Liz Mikitarian of STOP Moms for “Liberty” is one such community activist. As a mom and retired educator in the same Florida county where M4L originated, Mikitarian witnessed the group’s rise to prominence firsthand. “It was not a grassroots group even from the beginning,” she tells GLAAD. Given the co-founders’ connections to national political groups and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, it didn’t take long for them to attract mainstream media attention and spread disinformation far and wide.
Still, Mikitarian was appalled when M4L-backed candidates successfully overtook her local school board last fall. She launched STOP Moms for “Liberty” to help shed light on M4L’s true agenda in her community. The group’s self-described mission for “parents’ rights” is a thinly veiled attempt to obscure their extremist views on issues like LGBTQ equality and education on race and racism. “They’ve made a heck of a lot of progress in Florida, unfortunately,” she notes. “But I still have hope. I’m not giving up my Sunshine State.”
What started as a local awareness campaign has now grown into a national movement with chapters in 46 states. STOP Moms members coordinate internally via private Facebook groups, where they share resources, articles, and strategies. Publicly, the group is also active on TikTok, Instagram, and its website.
Their advocacy has led to tangible results. Per Mikitarian, Pennsylvania now has the biggest STOP Moms subgroup in the country. Members on the ground were “strongly involved” in the aforementioned school board elections in Bucks County. “They were hard-pressed to keep those seats,” she shares, “but we hit ‘em hard.”
“As we’ve just seen unfold, Moms for Liberty suffered huge defeats across the country,” adds Mikitarian. “We’re trying to push that information out as much as possible so that people know that yes, speaking up and fighting back is working. We can stop them, and we are stopping them.”
Election Day might be over, but Moms for Liberty isn’t slowing down. The group has established strongholds in crucial swing states like Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio, ostensibly to target ambivalent voters ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
On the local level, LGBTQ and ally parents and educators should continue monitoring M4L’s presence in their communities. If you feel called to fight back, Mikitarian recommends connecting with an advocacy group in your area that’s already doing this work. “We are fighting a structure that is well-organized from the top up,” she explains. “So that’s the first piece. Don’t go it alone.”