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Moms for Liberty: The Use of Facebook to Spread Far-Right Propaganda and Change Public School Curriculum

Moms for Liberty: The Use of Facebook to Spread Far-Right Propaganda and Change Public School Curriculum
26th June 2023 Diana Wallens
In Insights

Who Are Moms for Liberty?

Over the past two years, numerous American headlines have referenced a new, so-called ‘parental rights’ advocacy organisation dubbed Moms for Liberty (M4L).  In pursuit of this goal, M4L has, at the time of writing, opened 275 chapters and has 115,000 members across the US.  Due to this organisation’s success, several smaller groups have followed its lead in promoting book bans and other Christian nationalist policies in public schools. M4L chapters endorse local school board members to unseat opponents and amplify their conservative messages on social media and other news outlets. This group is also associated with targeted harassment and terroristic threats against these opponents and teachers, school administrators, and other school and library staff members that do not comply with their demands. 

In this Insight, I analyse M4L’s dissemination of memes, false headlines, and other social media content to share disinformation to its Facebook user base.  This disinformation, with its alarmist rhetoric and false charges of unethical, potentially criminal conduct, encourages reactionaries to use nonviolent and/or violent means to reinforce Christian nationalist values in public school curricula.  I will first discuss M4L’s origins and overall mission.  Then, I will outline the organisation’s strategy of posting content with messaging that reflects this strategy on a sample Facebook group page.

Well-Connected Beginnings

On 1 January 2021, Tina Descovich, Bridget Ziegler, and Tiffany Justice founded M4L.  Descovich was a former school board member in Brevard County, Florida from 2018-2019. In 2022, she campaigned on her commitment to opposing mask mandates and teacher raises, but lost her seat to Jennifer Jenkins. After this defeat, Descovich sought another pathway to implement these goals.  Enter Ziegler and Justice.  Both women have connections to the Florida public education system too: Ziegler is a Sarasota County school board chairwoman (she also is married to the vice chairman of the Florida Republican Party), and Justice stepped down from her school board position.

M4L Agenda 

M4L’s overall agenda, however, extends beyond opposition to pandemic protections in schools.  It has shifted its main focus to banning books with ‘objectionable’ content – that is, content deemed to be opposed to the group’s ‘nonpolitical’ white Christian nationalist ideology.  White Christian nationalism is the belief that God intended the United States to be a Christian nation, and it should therefore operate under a set of policies that align with the vision of conservative Christian leaders and right-wing activists. This vision is as follows: American society is based on white, Christian, patriarchal hegemony. The growing numbers of nonwhites, non-Christians, and other out-groups (e.g., members of the LGBT+ community or immigrants), however, pose an irreconcilable threat to this moral order.  Christian nationalists must therefore “take back the country”, by force if necessary.

M4L’s ultimate goal is to add the value system of white Christian nationalism to the curriculum in public schools nationwide.  One of the foremost items on this agenda is to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT).  According to the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), CRT is “an academic and legal framework that denotes  that systemic racism is part of American society — from education and housing  to employment and healthcare.”  In other words, American institutions, laws, and policies serve to perpetuate racial inequalities.  M4L and their supporters’ definitions of CRT vary widely.  Some, when asked, cannot explain it.  Others claim that it teaches students to believe that white people are oppressors and that minorities are victims.  Still, others argue that CRT instructs children to feel guilty because of their race or sex.  Despite their ever-shifting definitions of this academic theory, M4L and their allies all have the same objective: to “drive parents and other voters to challenge and prevent conversations about race and racism from taking place in schools.”  This in turn ensures that students cannot take action to disrupt the existing racial hierarchies.  

Another item on M4L’s agenda is to ban books its leaders and allies deem to be ‘pornographic’, including Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Flamer by Mike Cuarto.  These bans on ‘pornographic’ books have a dual purpose: to restore their patriarchal norms and to falsely accuse educators of being ‘groomers’. M4L and their allies define ‘groomers’ as adults who permit students to read books with sexual content and/or LGBTQ themes. These patriarchal norms define nuclear families as consisting of heterosexual couples and their children.  In these families, women assume the roles of homemakers and caretakers for the children and men assume the roles of breadwinners, protectors, and leaders.  Under this framework, any reference to sexuality that undermines these roles is an existential threat that must be eliminated.  M4L’s false ‘groomer’ accusations towards opponents of M4L’s book bans serve to delegitimise their arguments.   

Social Media Analysis  

Social media outreach has been critical to expanding the scope of M4L’s activities and garnering support among Americans with far-right political leanings and additional conservative donors.  For the purposes of this Insight, I performed a qualitative content analysis of posts (see Figures 1-5 below) in a public M4L Facebook group with 1,500 followers from Saraosta County, FL (many pages in other areas are private and inaccessible) to demonstrate the ways in which M4L communicates its white Christian nationalist agenda to either a) ban their definition of ‘CRT’ or b) uphold traditional patriarchal values. Sarasota County has been a Republican stronghold since 1944 and is therefore an ideal location for conservative organising.  M4L’s main Twitter account, while an important source of developments regarding M4L’s work to reshape public schools, is not their primary organising tool.

Fig. 1: A meme on the Sarasota County, FL Facebook page claims that educators are openly discussing their intimate lives

Fig. 2: A news headline implicating a transgender individual in a school shooting


Fig. 3: A post from a California organisation named Our Kids, Our Choice, which opposes the repeal of personal belief exemptions in public school vaccine mandates for children ages 0-18.  The picture above provides select quotes from a 2011 piece by Daniel Villarreal, an editor on Queerty, that advocated for educating children about queer sexuality.

Fig. 4: A diagram presenting the tenets of Social Emotion Learning (SEL), an alleged aspect of current public school curricula. According to M4L, SEL incorporates values that they, their allies, and concerned parents should oppose


Fig. 5: A meme that endorses homeschooling as a viable alternative to public school education due to the latter’s potential to teach children to embrace non-traditional gender roles

Figures 1-5 effectively communicate white Christian nationalist values to a receptive audience, and are intended to evoke feelings of fear, anger, and disgust that incite action to change public school curricula, either via force (e.g., threatening school board members and/or teachers that oppose this ideology) or legitimate means (e.g., running as candidates in school board elections).  Fig. 1 states that teachers mention sexual acts in front of children, directly implicating them in behaviour that is not only sexually inappropriate but also undermines the patriarchal norm of forbidding discussions of sexuality.  

Fig. 2 bears news of an arrest of a transgender individual for preparing to commit a violent crime, once again emphasising the danger of individuals in American society (especially schools) deviating from these norms.  Fig. 3, which takes quotes from a queer activist and isolates them, charges that members of the LGBTQ community want to ‘recruit’ children.  Fig. 4 is an implicit condemnation of ‘Social Emotional Learning’ because it purportedly teaches CRT and comprehensive sex education, among other ‘dangerous’ lessons.  The final figure is another sensationalist assertion that schools are instructing children to reject traditional gender roles.  These posts do not specifically implore M4L members and their allies to aggressively oppose attempts to teach school children beliefs that differ from white Christian nationalism.  Their scandalous (for certain segments of the population) allegations, however, serve the same purpose: to provide the impetus for them to address the issues at hand.  

M4L’s inflammatory social media outreach strategy has resulted in real-world harassment campaigns from its members and their affiliates who share their value system towards educators, public school staff members, and others.  For example, one such video from the Sarasota County M4L Facebook page features Tom Edwards, the only Democrat on the Sarasota County school board who is also openly gay.  The woman featured on this tape alleges that during the last board meeting, Mr Edwards was displaying “unhinged” and “erratic behaviour” by claiming that “elementary schools should be able to choose their genders and that parents should have no say whatsoever in transitioning decisions.”  Edwards walked out of this April 2023 meeting due to homophobic comments from several attendees. These comments, without sufficient evidence, characterise Edwards as a potentially violent, unstable man who should not be trusted around children.  Implicitly, she encourages viewers with white Christian nationalist leanings to continue to verbally assault him and others who advocate for similar policies at these venues. 

The M4L’s Chattanooga, Tennessee Facebook group tagged Moms for Social Justice, a rival group founded three years earlier, as #PedophileSympathizers following their campaign to increase diversity in reading lists.  The Chattanooga chapter also engaged in harassment campaigns, publicly accusing them of grooming children and threatening to falsely report them for distribution of child sexual abuse material and child abuse. In South Carolina, a school board member supported by M4L claimed that he would appear at an educator’s doorstep with a firearm if his child’s teacher came out as transgender.  As the 2024 election draws closer, these acts of intimidation remain an ever-present issue that impedes freedom of expression and the exchange of ideas among everyday Americans, especially those who are school employees. 


Although M4L maintain that they are a ‘parental rights’ organisation, their Facebook social media pages reveal that their true intentions are to reshape public school curricula to incorporate their white Christian nationalist agenda.  M4L pages frequently resort to posting disinformation with provocative statements concerning educators, students, and other parties who (intentionally or unintentionally) post a threat to this agenda.  But, this threatening activity does not always remain online, inspiring organisational members and receptive audiences to engage in violent harassment to reshape public schools in their own image.  This environment serves to stymie democratic debates in school board meetings and on social media and risks the health and safety of individuals who want to introduce children to stories that contain sexual content or diverse characters.  Tech companies must work to filter disinformation regarding sexual education and CRT to safeguard online spaces from fomenting offline threats.  

Diana Wallens is currently a Junior Fellow with the Canadian Institute for Far-Right Studies (CIFRS).  Her research interests include the study of far-right extremist movements in Canada, the United States, and Europe, particularly QAnon conspiracists, Neo-Confederate, and Neo-Nazi groups.  Currently, she is studying the far-right’s attacks on educators and public schools and the spread of the Great Replacement Theory in mainstream politics worldwide.