Frustrated by the overreach of government and attack on parental rights, moms and dads are stepping up and taking back their country one School Board at a time.
The Orlando Sentinel ran an article covering the importance of education issues in 2022 and highlighting Moms for Liberty, which is an organization based in Florida that launched just this past January and in less than a year has already grown to 142 chapters in 32 states with over 60,000 members.
The lesson at the ballot box in 2022 will be crystal clear – Don’t mess with our kids or the rights of our parents!
Face mask mandates fueled Moms for Liberty’s growth. Now group reviews books, looks ahead to school board elections
Jessica Tillman, a Seminole County mother of four, developed some new interests during the COVID-19 pandemic: Fighting against school board mask mandates and organizing with like-minded parents.
For Tillman, the government response to COVID-19 served as an “awakening” that spurred her to organize the Seminole County chapter of Moms for Liberty, a polarizing group that started in Florida and rapidly expanded across the country.
It really brought on the need for parents to really be involved in our children’s education,” she said.
The fight over face masks made Moms for Liberty a presence at Central Florida school board meetings, turning once staid policy discussions into sometimes
Now, the group’s members are shifting their attention to other priorities. Among them: urging schools to remove “pornographic” library books and criticizing instructional materials they think teach critical race theory or praise communism.
Launched on Jan. 1 by a trio of current and former conservative Florida school board members, Moms for Liberty quickly grew into a national network of parents aiming to become a lasting political force.
It puts its membership ranks at 60,000 with 152 chapters in 33 states, but many of its local groups are still small, with 40 or so dues-paying members who meet in their homes or local libraries, parks, churches and community centers.
An unstoppable wildfire’ of ‘pissed-off moms,’ GOP strategist says
Some of the gatherings are “Madison meet ups” where they read aloud from the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The meetings start with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer and include a review of the local school board’s agendas. The group’s philosophy is proudly proclaimed on signature navy Moms for Liberty t-shirts that have become a fixture at school board meetings — “We do not co-parent with the government.”
The group’s rapid rise has been likened to the Tea Party movement that swept the country during the Great Recession. Bridget Ziegler, one of the founders, said parents who have long felt they have been sidelined from their children’s education are fueling the growth.
“These are their children,” said Ziegler, a Sarasota County School Board member married to a top Florida GOP official. “There is nothing people get more passionate about than their children and rightfully so.”
The group, “on a mission to stoke the fires of liberty,” views parental rights as its overarching goal. It hopes to influence Florida school board elections next year. Moms for Liberty has also become the darling of some GOP leaders, with one Jacksonville mother appearing on stage with Gov. Ron DeSantis at a press conference last month.
Christian Ziegler, Bridget’s husband and the vice-chairman of the Florida Republican Party, said he expects education issues will mobilize voters for “liberty-minded” candidates up-and-down the ballot in next year’s elections.
“It is a lot more difficult to show up to school board meetings than to vote, and these parents are showing up in droves at these school board meetings,” he said. “It is like an unstoppable wildfire out there.”
Politicians who dismiss the concerns of “pissed off moms” do so at their own peril, Ziegler said, noting such views helped propel Republican Glenn Youngkin’s to victory in the Virginia governor’s race earlier this month.
But Wes Hodge, chair of Orange County’s Democratic Party, sees Moms for Liberty as less grassroots and more part of a “coordinated effort” to influence 2022 elections by firing up supporters of former President Donald Trump through culture war issues.
The group’s views do not represent mainstream thought in Orange County, he said. A Quinnipiac University poll from August found 60% of Floridians supported mask requirements for students, teachers and staff.
“This is a way to keep the Trump Train engaged,” he said. “If you want to show up in a clown suit and spew nonsense about how masks cause UTIs, more power to you. That’s Democracy. Does that mean they have a right to have policy enacted after their viewpoints? No.”
Hodge was upset when a Moms for Liberty member got Orange County Public Schools to remove the book “Gender Queer” from three high schools, using Jacob Engels, the blogger and political operative who is an associate of the Proud Boys, a far-right nationalists group.
©Christian Ziegler. All rights reserved.