Moms For Liberty Now Has 310 Chapters in 48 States; What Will They Do Now?

The organization is still considered an ‘extremist’ group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

This is a photo of Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich speaking in front of the old Capitol in Tallahassee.
Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich speaking in front of the old Capitol in Tallahassee on Feb. 2, 2024 (Mitch Perry)

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Since their creation three years ago, the conservative parental rights organization Moms for Liberty has emerged as a major player in national education politics in the U.S., and certainly in Florida, where the group began in 2021.

“We started with two chapters, Brevard and Indian River. And in three years, we are now at 310 chapters in 48 states with 130,000 members and I think that’s remarkable. It’s because of the work that you started here in Florida,” Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich said on Friday while speaking in front of a crowd in Florida’s Capitol courtyard in Tallahassee.

Moms for Liberty emerged in the wake of schools shutting down during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, with parents feeling in some cases that local school boards weren’t listening to their concerns over remote learning and mask mandates.

And they had a receptive audience in Tallahassee under Gov. Ron DeSantis and the GOP-controlled Legislature, resulting in legislation such as the Parental Rights in Education Act (the “Don’t say gay” bill) and the stop-WOKE Act. in the 2022 legislative session.

The group is still considered controversial: It’s been labeled as an “extremist group” and a “far-right” organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

SPLC writes: “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.”

Co-founder Tiffany Justice rejected that assertion, replying that “we are a group of moms and dads and grandparents and aunts and uncles, community members that are very concerned about the direction of the country,” according to Fox News Tonight, in June 2023.

Justice, Descovich and Sarasota’s Bridget Ziegler were the three original co-founders of Moms for Liberty, though Ziegler, a Sarasota School Board member, left the organization shortly after its creation. Ziegler has been in the spotlight recently after it was reported that she and her husband had a consensual sexual encounter with another woman, among other concerns.

Descovich said that while Moms for Liberty originally focused on turning around members of school boards, the group learned quickly that they needed to invest energy in state legislatures to change laws, she said on Friday in Tallahassee.

“Florida started forming organically a legislative committee, and that was the model that is now being used in 18 states of Moms for Liberty with legislative committees,” she said.

Meanwhile, Brevard County School Board member Jennifer Jenkins says that the culture wars of the past few years, pushed by DeSantis, appear to be losing some of its steam.

But she also says that Moms for Liberty’s impact isn’t going away in Florida.

“What’s scary though is that the reason (Moms for Liberty) rose and were viable in Florida still exists,” Jenkins says. “That infrastructure didn’t fall apart, right? I think that they’re going to continue to thrive here and create this façade that they’re the driving force and the moving force. I don’t know if that will die down. Perhaps someone will try to conquer that.”

Organizers at Friday’s event didn’t speak much about the future, but they are expected to again get involved in local elections later this year.

The Florida chapter lists 33 candidates and public officials that they say, “stand with parents.” The list includes both of Florida’s two U.S. GOP senators, Rick Scott and Marco Rubio.

Florida Phoenix is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Florida Phoenix maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Diane Rado for questions: info@floridaphoenix.com. Follow Florida Phoenix on Facebook and Twitter.

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