INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — The Southern Poverty Law Center released its "Year in Hate & Extremism 2022" report and listed the Florida-founded group Moms for Liberty.
The SPLC, a group dedicated to monitoring and exposing hate groups, has tracked 1,225 groups called "hate and antigovernment extremist groups."
"No one from our organization is anti-anything," Jennifer Pippin, the chairwoman of the Indian River County chapter of Moms for Liberty, said. "We're pro parental rights, we're pro children, we're pro making things better for students and families.
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Pippin said her chapter has 4,200-plus members including parents, grandparents, former educators and community members.
"The SPLC is calling Moms for Liberty an anti-government and anti-student inclusion group, so hearing that what is your reaction?" asked WPTV's Joel Lopez.
"I absolutely disagree with that," Pippin said. "Maybe Southern Poverty Law group doesn't understand what we do or how we're doing it. But to put us in with groups like the KKK and things like that, our parents, grandparents and community members are not a hate group. We're not anti-government like this group is saying.
The SPLC is monitoring 702 groups called anti-government, including the Indian River, Martin and Palm Beach County chapters of Moms for Liberty.
"They really push out that theory through what we've seen book bans, changes to the curriculums and LGBTQ+ acceptance in schools and in the community," Maya Henson-Carey, a research analyst with the intelligence project for the SPLC, said.
"And is that what we've seen from Moms for Liberty?" Lopez said.
"That's what we've seen from Moms for Liberty and a number of other anti-inclusion groups that we've been monitoring," Henson-Carey said.
The SPLC said this is the first time there's a listing of anti-student inclusion groups.
"I think that Moms for Liberty tactics are definitely hateful, but I think they're over acting theme of calling for the abolition of the Department of Education and attacking public schools specifically and attacking public teachers for indoctrinating students with the radical Marxist agenda," Henson-Carey said. "I think that that definitely fits more into the anti-government definition.
"I think it's important to note that these groups are sometimes often usually the most vocal and the most in your face, but they don't really speak for the majority of people."
Moms for Liberty has chapters in 45 states and are planning for their national summit to discuss ways to continue their advocacy.
"Just as much as they have the right to advocate for things that are important for them, we have the right to advocate for things that are important to us," Pippin said
The Indian River Chapter of Moms for Liberty plans to continue going to school board meetings, and challenge books as well as social studies curriculums.
Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich, the co-founders of Moms for Liberty, released the following statement to WPTV:
“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 teacher’s 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."