Christ is King,” announced signs in Dutchess County last spring. “Anthony Ciro DiLullo, WCSD Board. Vote May 17th.” He and a slate of far-right candidates running for school board were campaigning on “parents’ rights.” Some were endorsed by a local chapter of Moms for Liberty, a Florida-based group spearheading right-wing attacks on education nationwide through roughly 200 county chapters spread among nearly every state. Members are banning books, running for school board, and training others to do the same. Mother Jones anointed them “the Most Powerful Moms in America.” And they had descended on this politically purple swath of upstate New York.
The signs shocked Karen Svoboda of Fishkill, a mother of seven, including two who are gay, one who is bisexual, and another who is nonbinary. Then a friend introduced her to Laura Leigh Abby, a local mom who owns a fitness studio in Beacon with her wife. “She said, ‘These signs really, really upset me,’” Svoboda remembered. Abby had raised $500 to make alternative signs, and Svoboda, who has a background in nonprofit work, said, “We could get about 200 signs with that.” The women got to work and quickly settled on the phrase “Teachers shouldn’t be preachers” for their signs. Svoboda then felt they needed something else: an underlying message. She bought a URL from GoDaddy and Defense of Democracy was born.
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