Moms Spy on Each Other in Culture War Over Schooling
Moms for Liberty vs. Neighbors for Education.
Liberal and conservative mothers are infiltrating each other's activist groups, both online and in person, in attempts to gain the upper hand in the culture war over schooling, CNN reported. One of the groups is Moms For Liberty, a conservative group that advocated for book bans on gender and sexuality topics in school libraries. But liberal parents opposed to the group's tactics have fought back by sitting in on those meetings and passing their contents along on social media, the news outlet says.
"I just got back from forcibly re-closeting myself for 90 minutes to infiltrate a Moms for Liberty meeting. … I got so much juice!" a TikTok user who goes by Morgan Howls said in one video she's posted. It's one of several made by parents who say they've "infiltrated" the group to disseminate elements of its strategy.
When CNN observed a lunch meeting held by a Colorado chapter of Moms for Liberty, local chairperson Darcy Schoening said opponents had been known to crash their meetings. Schoening said she knew liberal parents belonged to her chapter's private Facebook group because her group had spies in the liberals' Facebook group.
"We all know what's going on. I don't even know why we keep stuff private," she said, claiming she welcomed certain attacks on her group. "What they don't realize is that they're doing half the work for us," Schoening said. "Because the more and more they post… You get those parents that are sitting out there saying, 'Oh, this doesn't sound so crazy. I want to go be a part of this.'"
In one lunch meeting CNN observed, Schoening and her group talked about the sexual content of books and how the group could expand their power over local school boards. The group had tried to ban school districts from allowing children to choose their own pronouns, which Schoening described as "grooming." That push failed amid backlash.
As CNN filmed the meeting, a woman sitting in the back passed the crew a handwritten note: "We have the other side of this story. This is a hate group." The note-passer introduced CNN to a woman who was sitting in her car outside the meeting. She introduced herself as a member of Neighbors for Education, a group established after conservatives exerted more control over school board wins in 2021.
Schoening called pronoun choice indoctrination. "If you ask my children, who are 7 and 8, 'What are your pronouns?' They don't even know what that is," she said. "When you ask that, you're planting the seed in their minds, that they maybe should identify as another gender or that identifying as another gender is hip or cool – 'Hey, my teacher's asking me, so maybe this is what I should do.'"
Naomi Lopez, a member of Neighbors for Education, speech pathologist at a local school, and mother of a trans child, called that "ridiculous." "We're not going around saying, 'OK, you know, I want you to think about it, what gender are you?'" she said. When teachers meet new students, they ask how they want to be addressed, she said, at which point a child might divulge a nickname. Pronouns choice is similar, she said.
Another member of Neighbors for Education, Tiana Clark, told CNN the controversy was a waste of time and resources. After one parent complained about five books in a local school library, the district had to form a committee to determine whether each book could remain. Clark, a parent and substitute teacher in the district, was on one of those committees.
"Of the five books, three of them had never been checked out. Two of them were only checked out once," Clark said. All five books remained in the library, but the effort cost more than $20,000. "What could that $20,000 have been spent on?" she said.