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Moms for Liberty hosts national summit in Tampa

Moms for Liberty hosts national summit in Tampa WFTS MARY.png
Posted at 4:58 PM, Jul 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 18:07:02-04

TAMPA, Fla.  — Moms for Liberty is holding its national summit in Tampa and kicked off the event Friday with Governor Ron DeSantis as a speaker.

Cathy Julian from Pasco County has five children and said she wanted to find out what Moms for Liberty was all about.

“Our Governor is a rockstar. His wife is also a rockstar,” said Julian. “They support parents, and they support educators, and they support moms and kids.”

Julian was just one of the many people at the Moms for Liberty national summit. The group said it’s a nationwide advocacy group for the empowerment of parents.

Moms for Liberty expects around 500 people to attend the summit, with parents from over 38 states coming to Tampa.

Governor DeSantis was among the speakers on Friday.

“We have drawn a very clear line in the sand that says our school system is for educating kids, not indoctrinating kids,” DeSantis said. “We’ve also drawn a clear line in the sand to say parents have a fundamental role in the education of their kids.”

The Governor talked about their fight on masks and vaccine mandates in schools, critical race theory, as well as their handling of COVID-19 in the classroom.

“We have made sure in the state of Florida to not just talk the talk with parent’s rights, but walk the walk with parent’s rights,” said DeSantis.

Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis also spoke to the crowd during the inaugural summit, which will run through the weekend.

Over the past two years, parents on both sides of these issues in schools have often been at odds.

“There’s nothing more powerful than a group of moms that are all on a phone chain about their kids,” said ABC Action News political analyst Susan MacManus.

MacManus explained the main thing DeSantis did with his remarks was to energize the crowd to go back home and work hard to elect people they support to school boards.

“The unusual part of all this is rarely have school board races mattered that much. All of a sudden, they’re the focal point, not just all over Florida, but across the country at large,” said MacManus.

Among the speakers expected this weekend are U.S. Senator Rick Scott, former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.

People joined the Hillsborough County LGBTQ Democratic Caucus to protest the Moms for Liberty National Summit Friday.

Hillsborough County LGBTQ Caucus Political Action Chair Luis Salazar says seeing the influence Moms for Liberty has in the state is disappointing.

"They are attempting to erase us. And you know, with the help of leaders in our own state, Governor Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott, they're getting a lot of headway," said Salazar.

The Hillsborough County LGBTQ Democratic Caucus is also protesting Marriott International, all because the hotel is the host site for the Moms for Liberty National Summit.

"The Marriott recently was a promoter of Pride Month. They put money into it, they were in our parades, we came and stayed at hotels like this. And now they're hosting hate groups like Moms for Liberty. So it's just a little hypocritical for them to stand out in solidarity with the LGBTQ community, and then hosts, organizations like this," he said.

As the Governor spoke to Moms for Liberty, Florida Democratic leaders spoke out at the other end of the Marriott Hotel.

“Right now our Governor is across the street with a grass roots organization who claims to speak for the majority but originated from founders being voted out of office by the majority,” said Brevard County School Board member Jen Jenkins.

Jenkins says Moms for Liberty and Governor DeSantis are focused on issues that don't exist.

“They serve as a tool of distraction for the DeSantis administration as they work to dismantle public schools. They say they’re putting Parents first while putting children last,” she said.