Mother Knows Best: The Fight Against Inclusion

An overview of political ideologies and acts by local members of Moms for Liberty.

Moms for Liberty is a Republican parenting organization, originating in Florida but including chapters around the country. In 2021, Oakland county approved the Oakland County chapter of Moms for Liberty, now headed by president Katie MacFarland, Vice Chair Shannon Fashho and Treasurer Kristina Sosnoski. These mothers have students that attend many schools in the area, including schools in the Troy School District. Some ideologies this chapter pushes are known to be conservative views, such as protesting the COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates, promoting anti-trans laws and objections towards drag queen story hours.

The Oakland County chapter’s Twitter page is mainly used to promote many changes, including a change in the Michigan Department of Education involving curriculum and transgender children. They criticize the strategy of Social Emotional Learning, commonly known as SEL, as well as discussions of LGBTQ+ topics in classrooms. Social Emotional Learning, which promotes learning empathy and emotional skills in schools, is heavily opposed by the organization. Their Twitter also promotes a variety of anti-transgender views, including the idea that trans children are groomed into being transgender.

These anti-LGBTQ+ viewpoints have led to a movement against Senate Bill 4 in Michigan, or the amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. This act “prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations and public services, educational facilities, and housing and real estate based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status.” The amendment to the act is based on a previous ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court, that found discrimination against coworkers on the basis of sexual orientation was considered to be discrimination on the basis of sex. The amendment codifies this right, citing that the amendment is meant to “prohibit discrimination in the areas described above based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.” Members of the local chapter have taken to social media to share opposition to this bill. As of March 16, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed this bill into law.

Moms for Liberty is also against the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program throughout the Troy School District, including the Equity and Analysis survey given to students every year. This survey includes questions about discussions of race in class, experiences of students with discrimination and gender identity of students. 

Chantelle Yancy, the Supervisor for Educational Equity, Inclusion and Community Relations, highlights the importance of the program itself, stating that “some students don’t feel the same sense of belonging,” later adding that the purpose of the survey is because “students learn better when they feel safe, seen and heard in their school community.” The survey is given to students every year, and data collected is used to find areas to improve this sense of belonging the district searches for with this program. However, Moms for Liberty is opposed to this program and this survey, claiming the Equity and Analysis Survey conducted on students indoctrinates children into leftist political views.

According to Michigan Advance, members of the local chapter, including President MacFarland, are also involved in the Great Schools Initiative. This is a Michigan group advocating for an opt-out program involving education and discussions about LGBTQ+ topics. This “opt-out” involves restrictions on any staff not qualified to teach sex education from discussing or gathering information about or from LGBTQ+ students in relation to their sexuality and gender identity, or even a staff member wearing a rainbow pin. While the organization claims to advocate for both straight and LGBTQ+ rights with this program, there are some contradictory statements involving this claim. Outside the policy statement on their website, there are claims that these discussions with staff are “rogue sex education.”

Some members of Moms for Liberty Oakland County also attended a protest in Royal Oak in the new movement against drag queen story hour at the SideTrack bookstore. This bookstore sells many LGBTQ+ books as well as books by and about people of color, and also hosts drag queen story hour, where drag queens read young children stories. The protest against the bookstore was met with a counter protest in support of SideTrack as well as transgender people and drag queens. This resulted in little change to either side, with SideTrack continuing drag queen story hour and scheduling more in the future.

The impact Moms for Liberty has is not only in the local community, but shown on a national scale. Moms for Liberty nationally pushes for book bans, with books such as All Boys Aren’t Blue and Genderqueer. They are also backed by political figures such as presidential candidate Vivek Ranaswamy and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Their political influence, as well as many other conservative organizations, have helped create the hundreds of bills proposed so far in 2023 against LGBTQ+ rights. The influence of this organization not only has a local impact on laws and treatment of minorities, but spheres of influence around the country impacting minority rights all over America.