Moms for Liberty: Authoritarianism in the Name of Parents’ Rights

Image from Moms for Liberty promotion for 2023 "Joyful Warriors" summit.

Moms for Liberty, the political group whose members demand that books be pulled from school libraries, harass teachers and school officials, push right-wing takeovers of school boards, and align themselves with authoritarian, anti-equality politicians, are holding their second annual summit in Philadelphia at the end of this month. The summit’s speakers list is clear evidence that the group, far from being just a bunch of moms concerned about their kids’ education, has quickly become a hard-edged political player in the increasingly authoritarian MAGA wing of the Republican Party.

Moms for Liberty was created in Florida in 2021 to mobilize parental opposition to schools requiring masks or vaccines as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The group’s political agenda expanded quickly as it teamed up with political leaders who build power by stoking white racial grievance and smearing LGBTQ people and their allies as threats to children.

In the name of parents’ rights, Moms for Liberty chapters mobilize censorship campaigns targeting books and library materials dealing with race, gender, and sexuality. Its leaders seek to take over school boards by inciting hostility toward school officials with dishonest and inflammatory rhetoric about critical race theory, LGBTQ-affirming policies, and efforts to make schools welcoming places for diverse student bodies. Local Moms for Liberty leaders have viciously harassed educators and parents who oppose their political agenda.

The speakers’ list for Moms for Liberty’s upcoming national summit is revealing of the group’s appalling agenda for schools, students, and the country. It features former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, now battling each other for the support of the GOP’s MAGA wing. It includes the extremely anti-LGBTQ North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, Christian nationalist activist Tim Barton, and Heritage Foundation’s hard-right Kevin Roberts, as well as promoters of stolen election lies and false narratives about the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Moms for Liberty In Brief


  • Tina Descovich, Tiffany Justice, and Bridget Ziegler co-founded Moms for Liberty. Marie Rogerson is Moms For Liberty’s campaign consultant. Rogerson, Descovich, and Justice now make up the executive board, which approves new county chapters.
  • Bridget Ziegler is currently chair of the Sarasota School Board and is married to Florida Republican Party chair Christian Ziegler.
  • Local chapters choose their own leaders.


  • With a huge boost from right-wing media figures, Moms For Liberty has spread quickly across the country. It claims 115,000 members across 280 chapters in 45 states.
  • Moms for Liberty reportedly won 275 of 500 school board races it was involved in last year. Candidates backed by Moms for Liberty and the allied 1776 PAC won slightly less than half of their school board races this spring in Wisconsin and Illinois.
  • When Moms for Liberty and allied right-wing candidates win school board majorities, they often create chaos by firing school superintendents and other school officials. For example, in Berkeley County, South Carolina, a November 2022 Moms for Liberty takeover led to the immediate firing of the superintendent and lawyer for the school district.

Strategies and Tactics:

  • Moms for Liberty members have frequently attacked LGBTQ-themed books, fueling what one journalist has called a “porn panic” that has been weaponized in political races. They also target books dealing with race and racism.
  • Moms for Liberty’s activists and school board members have stripped books from classrooms and libraries across the country. A 2021 Moms for Liberty letter to a Tennessee legislator was accompanied by an 11-page spreadsheet of objectionable books and included a suggestion that books about the civil rights movement might violate a new state law restricting teaching about racism.
  • Among books targeted by Moms for Liberty are a book about seahorses (for showing mating seahorses and noting that male seahorses carry eggs) and a book about the Plains Indians that “paints white people in a negative light.”
  • A graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary was removed from the Vero Beach High School library in 2023.
  • A Moms for Liberty challenge this year led to a poem that was read at President Biden’s inauguration being banned from an elementary school.
  • In 2023, a Moms for Liberty chapter in Indian River, Florida, urged the school board to abolish a racial equity policy unanimously adopted just three years ago.
  • In Sarasota County, Florida, Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler was elected chair of the school board, and moved unsuccessfully in April 2023 to hire a former Hillsdale College employee as a consultant to review school materials, policies, and personnel (Hillsdale is a conservative evangelical school deeply involved in right-wing culture war politics). Another Moms for Liberty member has repeatedly used the public comment period at board meetings to smear another school board member as a “groomer.”
  • Moms for Liberty is associated with religious-right groups; the chapter in Santa Rosa County, Florida, declared that it would push for the county school board to start its meetings with prayer.
  • The Campbell County, Kentucky, Moms for Liberty chapter teamed up with the Boone County Republican Party for a “Defund Public Education” rally.
  • Moms For Liberty partners with and promotes materials from anti-public-education right-wing organizations like the Heritage Foundation and Leadership Institute as well as the religious-right American Family Association’s voter guide, which promotes candidates who espouse “conservative principles and Biblical values.”


End Game:

  • Moms for Liberty’s efforts are part of a much broader project by its right-wing and anti-public-education allies to inflame conservative anger about school policies as a way to drive up voter turnout and help elect conservatives to office at all levels of government. Christian Ziegler, chair of the Florida GOP, told the Washington Post in 2021 (when he was vice chair), “I have been trying for a dozen years to get 20- and 30-year-old females involved with the Republican Party, and it was a heavy lift to get that demographic. But now Moms for Liberty has done it for me.’”