Despite billing itself as a “grassroots organization,” Moms for Liberty (M4L) is an anti-LGBTQ extremist group with powerful national connections. Co-founder Bridget Ziegler is married to Florida Republic Party Chair Christian Ziegler, who was recently accused of sexual assault by a woman who previously had a three-way sexual relationship with the couple. In light of the allegations, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a longtime M4L supporter, has asked Christian to resign. One local M4L chapter in Pennsylvania even broke off from the national organization.
These allegations follow years of Moms for Liberty and supporters like Christian Ziegler deploying false and revolting rhetoric about LGBTQ people. This ongoing disinformation campaign, including the use of harmful “groomer” language, is central to M4L’s anti-LGBTQ playbook. It has serious social and political ramifications for America’s 1.9 million LGBTQ youth, who are directly impacted by anti-LGBTQ laws and school policies.
Just last week, LGBTQ and ally middle schoolers in Seattle, WA, penned letters to their local M4L chapter demanding that they “stop bullying and excluding” LGBTQ people. These brave students took a stand against M4L by calling it what it is: an anti-LGBTQ extremist group.
In response, M4L tweeted (without providing evidence) that Seattle Public Schools “indoctrinated” and “weaponized” these children and likened it to “the Red Guard.” The inaccurate characterization and targeting of LGBTQ allies, even children, are textbook examples of the group’s tactics.
Here are more instances of Moms for Liberty’s founders, members, and high-profile allies using inflammatory language to vilify LGBTQ people.
Moms for Liberty promotes harmful “groomer” rhetoric.
For decades, opponents of LGBTQ equality have used defamatory “groomer” rhetoric to demonize LGBTQ people under the guise of “protecting” children. According to a report from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, this language has helped anti-LGBTQ lawmakers justify discriminatory bans on mainstream healthcare and drag performances, and led to increased violence against LGBTQ people.
In 2023, state lawmakers throughout the U.S. introduced at least 506 anti-LGBTQ bills, more than any year in recent history. Eighty-four of them passed into law. As Media Matters reported in June, many Moms for Liberty members leveraged their networks to rally support for these bills. Some, including a chapter co-chair in Washington County, AR, even testified in their favor.
The group promotes “groomer” rhetoric in service of the same agenda. In the past, M4L leaders and members have:
—Allied with Gays Against Groomers, a hate group that uses “groomer” language to attack transgender people and their allies. Both groups have co-hosted events, including anti-LGBTQ “Stop the War on Children” rallies in multiple cities and states.
—Allied with anti-LGBTQ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his press secretary, Christina Pushaw. In 2022, Pushaw came under fire for tweeting that opponents of Florida’s “Don’t Say LGBTQ” censorship law were “probably groomer[s].”
—Falsely accused The Trevor Project, the nation’s leading suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth, of “grooming children”
—Misrepresented drag artists as “pedos” and “groomers” and falsely accused them of “sexualizing children.” Drag, a centuries-old art form that spans cultures, has become a high-profile target for states that also seek to limit access to healthcare, school sports and facilities, and LGBTQ-inclusive classroom discussions. In 2022, GLAAD documented at least 141 instances of anti-LGBTQ protests or threats targeting drag performers and events. Tennessee, Florida, Montana, and Texas passed laws this year banning or restricting certain drag performances; all four laws were rejected in court and are now unenforceable.
Moms for Liberty stokes fear around so-called “gender ideology,” “wokeness,” and “woke indoctrination.”
Many extremists use nebulous terms like “woke,” “woke ideology,” and “woke indoctrination” to stoke fear around topics like LGBTQ inclusion and education on race and racism. The equally amorphous “gender ideology” — often used in reference to trans-inclusive books, educational curricula, and school policies — has also gained traction.
Moms for Liberty members, leaders, and allies frequently deploy these phrases to target LGBTQ people and people of color. Past examples include:
—Platforming and vocally supporting the anti-LGBTQ DeSantis, who signed Florida’s aforementioned “Don’t Say LGBTQ” law and “Stop WOKE” Act. (The latter, which limits education about race and racism in schools, was later blocked by a federal judge.) Speaking at M4L’s 2023 national summit, DeSantis told attendees, “We are not going to have the sexualization of our children in our schools. Our children should be focused on math and science, not an agenda of gender ideology.”
—Antagonizing the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest teachers’ union, for recommending books by trans and Black authors (in M4L’s words, “gender ideology and critical race theory”)
—Targeting an Iowa school district for implementing a trans-inclusive bathroom policy, which a local chapter leader described as “a woke nightmare”
The group also spreads misinformation about gender-affirming healthcare.
Every major medical association in the U.S. supports gender-affirming healthcare for trans people. This safe, evidence-based care has been shown to improve mental health outcomes for trans youth, who face higher rates of bullying and suicidality compared to their cisgender peers.
But anti-LGBTQ groups like Moms for Liberty ignore these facts, opting instead to spread misinformation about trans people, gender diversity, and best-practice medical care. They also fail to acknowledge the negative effects of systemic transphobia on trans kids’ mental health, and further fuel it. According to a report from The Trevor Project, “Nearly 2 in 3 LGBTQ young people said that hearing about potential state or local laws banning people from discussing LGBTQ people at school made their mental health a lot worse.”
M4L’s misinformation efforts include:
—Inviting Jamiee Michell, founder of Gays Against Groomers, to speak at its 2023 national summit. Per The Daily Beast’s undercover reporting, Michell falsely accused “woke doctors” of “sterilizing and mutilating [trans] children.”
—Elevating The Paradox Institute, a group that invalidates trans peoples’ existence, on an episode of its Joyful Warriors podcast. Speaking with M4L co-founder Tiffany Justice, guest Cynthia Breheny mischaracterized evidence-based gender-affirming care as “snake oil.” M4L later tweeted a clip of the interview with the blatantly inaccurate headline, “There is no such thing as a trans kid, they’re lying to our children!”
—Tweeting misinformation about California Senate Bill 107, a landmark law that made the Golden State a permanent refuge for trans children and their families. This resulted in a temporary suspension of M4L’s Twitter account.
The world is catching on to Moms for Liberty’s extremist views.
In November’s general election, about 70% of all M4L-endorsed school board candidates lost their races nationwide.
Watchdog groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and Media Matters continue to shed light on M4L’s extremist views and deceptive marketing. On the local level, pro-equality parents, families, and educators are pushing back against M4L’s presence in their communities. They’re proving once and for all that this so-called “parental rights” group doesn’t speak for most parents.