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HomeAt Home & BeyondSPLC report labels Florida-based Moms for Liberty an “Extremist Group”

SPLC report labels Florida-based Moms for Liberty an “Extremist Group”

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The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has included the Florida-based parental rights group Moms For Liberty on its latest list of “hate and extremist groups.” In their annual report entitled “The Year in Hate and Extremism 2022,” the SPLC identified 1225 groups in the United States as either “hate groups” or “anti-government extremists.” While some of the organizations listed, such as the Ku Klux Klan, are not surprising, others, like the American College of Pediatricians, raise eyebrows. Among the groups mentioned in the latest report, Moms for Liberty appeared over 200 times, with each local chapter receiving a separate listing. Currently, Moms for Liberty boasts more than 140,000 members across 45 states.

According to the SPLC website, the report highlights schools as a primary target for locally driven extremist mobilization. It identifies 12 anti-student inclusion groups leading a movement to gain power through school boards, aiming to undermine public education, ban books, and eliminate curriculum discussing topics related to race, discrimination, and LGBTQ+ identities. One group the SPLC says is at the forefront of this mobilization is Moms for Liberty, a Florida-based organization first designated by the SPLC as an anti-government extremist group in 2022.

The SPLC has had its own controversies, with co-founder Morris Dees resigning after facing allegations of improper touching. There were also allegations the SPLC maintained a toxic culture and discriminated against people of color and women. One of the SPLC employees described it as “a highly profitable scam.” The SLPC has recently faced lawsuits over harm caused by their seemingly arbitrary designation of certain groups as hate groups. In a case decided by the Supreme Court last year, Coral Ridge Ministries sued the SPLC over being labeled as a “hate group” due to their biblical views on the LGBTQ agenda. Coral Ridge claimed that the label crippled their fundraising efforts. The Supreme Court sided with the SPLC only because “actual malice” could not be proven by the ministry. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, “Nonetheless, unable to satisfy the “almost impossible” actual-malice standard this Court has imposed, Coral Ridge could not hold SPLC to account for what it maintains is a blatant falsehood.” Similar lawsuits against the SPLC are pending.

The SPLC’s website elaborates that parental rights groups claim to fight for parents’ rights while seeking to exert absolute control over issues they oppose. In describing parental rights organizations, the SPLC says in 2021, their primary concern revolved around any curriculum emphasizing inclusivity, particularly if it touched upon race or the history of racism, as seen in critical race theory. In 2022, their focus shifted to materials related to the LGBTQ+ community and the proposed changes to Title IX by the Biden administration, which aimed to provide greater inclusivity and protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. These groups have consistently attempted to ban books from classrooms and libraries based on their own judgment of inappropriate content that addresses race, LGBTQ+ issues, and gender.

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The Hernando County chapter of Moms for Liberty actively engages in local politics, especially concerning matters involving the Hernando County School Board. Parental rights, student indoctrination, inappropriate content in library books, and LGBTQ+ representation in schools have sparked explosive debates during school board meetings over the past few months. Shannon Rodriguez and Mark Johnson, school board members backed by Moms for Liberty, have spearheaded efforts to bring conservative values back into the classroom since their election last November.

Recent controversies, including alleged threats by a transgender teacher and allegations of teachers indoctrinating students, have thrust Hernando County into international news headlines. The local teacher’s union and its supporters have criticized board member Rodriguez and Moms for Liberty, arguing against what they perceive as the persecution of teachers advocating for LGBTQ+ students.

While the Hernando County School District has seen its share of highly publicized debates, these issues reflect a national discourse in school districts across the country. Regarding the SPLC’s listing, Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich expressed resilience saying, “We are letting it roll off our backs in a sense. It is just ridiculous when you look at the people listed at the top of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website.”
In a recently released statement, Descovich emphasized their organization’s devotion to empowering parents to participate in their children’s public school education.

“Two-thirds of Americans think the public education system is on the wrong track today. That is why our organization is devoted to empowering parents to be a part of their child’s public school education. That is our fundamental goal, which began just two years ago when teachers unions locked students out of schools during the pandemic.

Empowering parents continues to be our mission today, and that has fueled our organization’s growth – like wildfire to now 45 states in the country. Name-calling parents, who want to be a part of their child’s education as ‘hate groups’ or ‘bigoted’ just further exposes what this battle is all about: Who fundamentally gets to decide what is taught to our kids in school – parents or government employees?

We believe that parental rights do not stop at the classroom door, and no amount of hate from groups like this is going to stop that.”
Monty Floyd, Vice Chairman of Hernando County Moms for Liberty, said that the local chapter stands behind Descovich’s statement.

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