In a California school district, a group of formidable mothers are raging against a new superintendent, whom they say is working to indoctrinate their children with left-wing ideals about race and gender.
In the name of parental choice, they say, the district should give the superintendent the boot. They attack the superintendent for his global outlook, interest in providing mental health services to students, and his efforts to incorporate inclusive sex education and racial equity initiatives in schools. After months of intense acrimony, the school board heeds their demands and asks him to step down. When he leaves the position, a cloud of unfounded conspiracy theories remain in his wake.
The year isn’t 2022. It’s 1950.
Seventy years later, similar battles are waging around the country, as groups of conservative parents—often mothers—and school board leaders attack educators and district leaders who emphasize the importance of racial equity. In February, conservative members of a large Colorado school district pushed a superintendent to resign, in part because of his focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Groups like Moms for Liberty are working relentlessly in some districts to get books about civil rights banned.
Since 2020, thousands of parents have become engaged in new activism centered around frustration with pandemic-era safety policies and what they see as a new overemphasis on race and civil rights in schools, often organizing under the banner of groups like Moms for Liberty.
These groups might be new in name, but historians say they’re born out of clear historical precedent.