From the Advocacy Committee
June 11, 2023
Mom for Liberty, a Florida-based advocacy organization with chapters in Central Pennsylvania, was recently named an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
The SPLC is a nonprofit legal advocacy organization specializing in civil rights and public interest litigation and is known for its legal cases against white supremacist groups, classification of hate groups and other extremist organizations, and promoting tolerance education programs. You can visit its website here: https://www.splcenter.org/
SPLC says Moms for Liberty (or, Moms4Liberty in much of its social media, including @Moms4Liberty on Twitter and @moms4liberty on Instagram) is a far-right organization that engages in anti-student inclusion activities and self-identifies as part of the modern parental rights movement. The group grew out of opposition to public health regulations for COVID-19, opposes LGBTQ+ and racially inclusive school curriculum, and has advocated books bans.
Here is a link to the Moms for Liberty website: https://www.momsforliberty.org/chapters/
We bring this to your attention because Moms for Liberty representatives attended the April 18 Camp Hill Democrats Candidate Forum and the group is known to be actively engaged in school board election advocacy in the Midstate. This spring, Camp Hill saw an attempt to ban a civics textbook that has been used in the district for years. This attempt failed in a 7 – 2 vote at the March 13, 2023 School Board meeting.
According to Moms for Liberty itself, Pennsylvania has the second-highest number of Moms for Liberty chapters in the country behind Florida. The group will hold its national summit on June 29 – July 2 at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown.
The chapter chair of the Monroe County Moms for Liberty was convicted on May 31 of harassing a member of the group, “Stop Moms for Liberty.” You can read that story here: https://www.poconorecord.com/story/news/courts/2023/05/31/prussman-convicted-in-pike-harassing-moms-for-liberty-poconos-monroe-county-pa/70274649007/
One of the Moms for Liberty founders, Bridget Ziegler, was pictured with members of the Proud Boys after her victory in the Sarasota County School board race. You can read that story here: https://www.vice.com/en/article/7k8k7y/sarasota-school-board-proud-boys In May, four leaders of that group have been convicted of seditious conspiracy in connection with the January 6th Insurrection.
Ziegler’s husband, Christian, is the vice-chair of the Florida Republican party and attended the January 6, 2020 Insurrection in Washington, D.C., according to local news sources. You can read that story here: https://www.heraldtribune.com/story/news/politics/2021/01/06/u-s-rep-greg-steube-joining-republicans-challenging-election-results/6564750002/
Bridget Ziegler worked to draft and pass the “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida.
On its website, the SPLC writes the following about Moms for Liberty. You can (and should) read the entire post at https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/moms-liberty
Moms for Liberty is an antigovernment organization founded in 2021 by former Florida school board members, Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich. Current Sarasota County, Florida school board member, Bridget Ziegler, was also a co-founder. She has since left the group, leaving Justice and Descovich at the helm.
Moms for Liberty and its nationwide chapters combat what they consider the "woke indoctrination" of children by advocating for book bans in school libraries and endorsing candidates for public office that align with the group's views. They also use 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.
In January 2021, Moms for Liberty made its national debut on the Rush Limbaugh show. By the end of the next month, the organization had five chapters in Florida and had garnered attention from Breitbart and Tucker Carlson Tonight.
According to Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich, the organization was established with the intention to remain within Florida. However, two weeks after launching the initial chapters, a mother from Nassau County, New York reached out interested in starting a chapter where she lived. Descovich recalls co-founder Tiffany Justice saying to her, "Tina, this movement doesn't belong to us. We can't control it. We can't contain it. All we can do is help.
The chapters, which are structured by county, have since grown rapidly nationwide. Within two years of the organization's founding, it self-reports a membership of approximately 110,000 in over 250 chapters in 42 states.
Between June 2021 and January 2022, Moms for Liberty hosted high-priced fundraisers that featured former FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly and musicians Larry Gatlin and John Rich.
In July 2022, Moms for Liberty held its first national summit in Tampa, FL. Speakers included Dr. Ben Carson, FL Gov. Ron DeSantis and his wife, Betsey DeVos, former FL governor and US Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Dr. James Lindsay, and KrisAnne Hall, among many others. Marriott International, which openly supports the LGBTQ community and its causes, received criticism for hosting the summit because of Moms for Liberty's openly anti-LGBTQ stance, as well as those of the speakers included on the program, including Ron DeSantis, who had recently signed Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill into law, which the group publicly lobbied in favor of.
Although ticket prices for the fundraisers ranged from $50 to $20,000 and the highest sponsorship package of the sold-out summit was $50,000, when asked about how the organization is funded, the group claimed that t-shirt sales were its "biggest source of funding."
Since its inception, the group has encouraged its chapters and members to become watchdogs and gain positions in local school districts, usually by seeking open school board seats, in order to stop what it describes as school districts disregarding the opinions of parents and "abdicating their authority to bureaucrats, to medical committees, to Departments of Health to other people where the decision making really did lie with the school board local control."
To aid in this goal, the group has hosted online and in-person school board trainings in partnership with the Leadership Institute. Additionally, during the national summit in 2022, a special session was offered on how to build and run a school board campaign.
In December 2021, Moms for Liberty created a political action committee, which received a contribution of $50,000 from Julie Fancelli, heiress to the Publix grocery stores. This donation contributed significantly to the organization's ability to help fund 2022 school board campaigns, according to a co-founder who spoke to Politico.
In 2022, Moms for Liberty endorsed over 500 school board candidates across the country. Of this, 76% were first-time candidates. This activity was part was the organization’s stated goal to have a foothold in all 13,000 school districts in the United States.
In its efforts to combat anything that it considers "woke ideology," Moms for Liberty commonly propagates conspiracy theories about public schools attempting to indoctrinate and sexualize children with a progressive Marxist curriculum.
As self-anointed "joyful warriors," Moms for Liberty has adopted the slogan, "we do not co-parent with the government," which adorns their lawn signs and merchandise sold on the website.
Despite the background of its founding members serving on various boards of education, Moms for Liberty has taken a stance that is firmly anti-public school. 4
Tiffany Justice explained in an interview that because public schools are funded by the government, they are government schools. "So, if you don't go to private school, you're going to a government school. And then you have these employees who have to have a state certificate working at these government schools or government employees."
Throughout its existence, Moms for Liberty has also waged war on teachers’ unions, referring to them as a terrorist organization and criticizing their stances and influence in public schools. In the past, a number of Moms for Liberty chapters saw their Facebook pages flagged for "community violation," which prohibit accounts from "posting basic information about local government operations such as school board meetings, or questions about student textbooks."12 The group subsequently appealed with an open letter to Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerburg, asking him not to side with the National Education Association who were seeking to label concerned parents as "domestic terrorists."
Perhaps most importantly of note in their war against public schools and those who support them is Moms for Liberty’s fight to have the Department of Education eliminated. Advocacy for abolishing the Department of Education has been a common cause of antigovernment organizations, from the John Birch Society to the Constitution Party. Former U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsey DeVos was a featured speaker at the first Moms for Liberty Summit, where she stated, “I personally think that the Department of Education should not exist.”