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The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

Disarray Downtown – Moms for Liberty

Moms for Liberty influences school board decisions
Charlotte Baxter

At the heart of school board controversies across the nation lies the special interest group Moms for Liberty, an organization that has sought to place their chosen candidates on school boards to implement their beliefs and mission statements.

Moms for Liberty has pushed to remove books from school libraries and the curriculum, claiming sexually explicit or divisive material, including calls for changes to the AP African American Studies curriculum.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit organization that specializes in civil rights advocacy, has labeled Moms for Liberty an extremist anti-government group.

According to the SPLC website on Moms for Liberty: “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… [it] has not only developed but leveraged its close political alliances and ties to extremist groups to broaden its reach and spread its messages of anti-inclusion and hate.”

Moms for Liberty’s strategy with local school boards is to flip enough seats to create a simple majority, and then the newly elected members remove current officials to further the organization’s agenda, such as the recent events within CCSD and the firing of Berkeley County’s superintendent last fall.

The BCSD board fired Deon Jackson at the very first meeting following Moms for Liberty-backed candidates’ election. Despite multiple requests for interviews, the Charleston County chapter of Moms for Liberty declined to speak with Tribal Tribune.

However, Chapter Chair Tara Wood did provide a written statement : “Schools answer to the elected school board and the school board answers to the voters. This is our American system of accountability. No one knows better how to educate a child than a parent, and the parents spoke loud and clear last November. THAT is democracy.”

At the Oct. 23 school board meeting, Wood spoke before the board and stated that she did not understand why there was so much controversy around protecting children from sexually explicit books. Wood said that if parents want their children to read those books, then they can get them off of Amazon.

Wood started to read an excerpt from “All Boys Aren’t Blue” when the crowd started chanting “read the whole book” to drown her out. The crowd shouted her down during the majority of her time speaking. Moms for Liberty has challenged this specific book in school libraries, citing that it contains explicit material that is inappropriate for minors.

Maya Henson Carey, a research intelligence analyst for SPLC, works for their intelligence projects in exposing extremism and hate throughout the country. She said that Moms for Liberty claim to be a parental rights organiztion but that their actions show a different agenda.

“They are really just advocating for a very small demographic of parents and students. That’s usually straight, white cisgender students, and parents that they’re advocating for. And they’re really seeking to suppress and oppress very large swaths of students, so LGBTQ+ students, Black and brown students, so I think that’s why it was really important for us not to refer to them as parental rights groups,” Henson Carey said.

By successfully creating ties with politicians, big media names, and other extreme groups like Proud Boys and QAnon, Moms for Liberty have been able to put themselves in position to enact their agenda. However, according to a YouGov poll, nearly 53 percent of adult Americans are unsure or don’t know about Moms for Liberty.

Multiple Wando faculty members declined interview requests with Tribal Tribune relating to Moms for Liberty.

“[Parents and teachers] disagree with book bans… the suppressing of Black and brown history and LGBTQ+ history. They disagree with suppressing LGBTQ+ acceptance in schools,” Henson Carey said. “Their goal is really to run for these school board seats, nso that no matter what the majority of people believe they can enact their own policies.”

On the front lines contesting Moms for Liberty is the group Defense of Democracy. For CEO Karen Svoboda, it meant doing things the right way, and not playing dirty. In just one year, Svoboda’s Defense of Democracy has spread chapters all over the country.

“They… have done irreparable harm to the school system. And we are trying to stem the tide of… of regressions that our schools and our children and our families are facing,” Svoboda said.

Svobodas’s volunteers have set up signs around the Charleston area speaking out against book bans. These signs are paid for by her volunteers’ own money, and have since had recent damage to them by members of Moms for Liberty.

“[Our volunteers] have seen the Moms for Liberty group within the community… posting pictures bragging about them, throwing them in garbage bins,” Svoboda said. “We rise above these things. And for that reason, there is a lot of trust in Defense of Democracy… Our focus is 100 percent on the children and the families in the school districts and groups like Moms for Liberty, their focus is on control and power and so that is the difference between Defense of Democracy and Moms for Liberty.”

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