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PFLAG National Joins Organizations Hosting Large-Scale Action in Philadelphia to Stop Censorship, Protect Freedom to Learn, and Counter Hate

June 30, 2023

Participants include diverse organizations; passionate youth; dedicated parents, grandparents, teachers, veterans, and allies; LGBTQ+, civil rights, and faith leaders; and state and local elected officials

PHILADELPHIA, PA (June 30)— A large coalition of organizations and individuals came together in Philadelphia for events and actions, including a press conference and rally, in support of the freedom to learn and in opposition to censorship and book banning by right-wing and anti-education groups. The action took place as the anti-freedom-to-learn group Moms for Liberty opened its national summit.

People For the American Way led the effort under a new national initiative, Grandparents for Truth, for grandparents and their allies fighting for the next generation’s freedom to learn.  Co-hosts for the rally included a diverse set of local partners: Campaign for Our Shared Future (COSF); Defense of Democracy; Education Voters of Pennsylvania; ); Moms Rising; New Pennsylvania Project; PFLAG National; Red Wine & Blue; and Stop Moms for Liberty.

More than 100 parents, grandparents, youth, teachers, and allies attended the event to speak out against the barrage of discriminatory book bans, censorship and other authoritarian efforts that create barriers for all students to understanding different cultures, worldviews, genders, sexual orientations, and faith traditions. Philadelphia-based organizations also participated with representatives from ACT UP Philadelphia, the Mazzoni Center, and Veterans Defending Democracy.

Speakers included Svante Myrick, President of People For the American Way; and elected officials State Senator Nikil Saval and Philadelphia City Councilman Isaiah Thomas.

“People For the American Way was excited to launch our new Grandparents For Truth campaign in Philadelphia, a city with a rich civil rights history, at a time when the dangers of book-banning and censorship are on the rise. Grandparents For Truth stands for the freedom of teachers to teach, and students to learn, the full history of our country. We believe that grandparents have a role in building a better world for their grandchildren to inherit—and they have a great perspective on history and have seen how censorship and book banning have played out as tools of authoritarians in the past,” said People For the American Way President Svante Myrick. “Book-banning and censorship are hallmarks of authoritarian regimes and are undemocratic and un-American. We believe in the right of a parent to decide if their own child is mature enough to read a book, but not to make that decision for everybody else’s kids.”

“Every child—Black, white or brown, transgender or not—deserves the freedom to learn and to thrive. Yet, across the street today, a bleak and restrictive vision for our country, our families, and our future is being promoted. The hundreds of thousands of parents, families, allies, and LGBTQ+ people of PFLAG affirm, today and every day, that courageous love is the antidote to fear, and accurate, honest, inclusive education is the path to liberty for all.” – Brian K. Bond, Executive Director, PFLAG National

“As Americans we have a civic responsibility to speak out against racism, homophobia, transphobia, religious persecution, and hate in all its forms.” – Karen Svoboda, CEO; Defense of Democracy.

“Whitewashing and sanitizing our American history is a threat to everyone. We have come too far as a Nation to take steps backwards by depriving future generations from the full and complete picture of our Nation’s history. A truly equitable society is only possible by facing our past head-on. As Ida B. Wells said ‘The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them’” – Kadida Kenner, CEO; New Pennsylvania Project.

While Moms for Liberty is spreading hate at their convention, we’ll be across the street showing love in the community and handing out banned books. Mainstream moms aren’t buying what Moms for Liberty is selling and we’re here to show we are the majority.” – Kim Barbaro, Red Wine & Blue.

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Named as an extremist, anti-government group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Moms for Liberty and its chapters nationwide began by opposing COVID-19 protections such as masking and vaccines, then quickly broadened their agenda to oppose LGBTQ+ subject matter and so-called “critical race theory” in classrooms and libraries. Heavily aided by right-wing media and funders, the group is leading a broad, aggressive and sometimes violent campaign against inclusive education, advocating for book bans in public and school libraries. They engage in hateful online rhetoric that continues leading to real-world harm for LGBTQ+ people, people of color, disabled people, and other underrepresented groups, using their platforms to advance conspiracy theories and circulate hateful imagery and rhetoric against the LGBTQ+ community. They also directly target teachers, school board and city council members, librarians, and other parents.

About the Organizations

People for the American Way, a national progressive advocacy organization, inspires and mobilizes community and cultural leaders to advance Truth, Justice and the American Way. We convene courageous Americans, produce compelling media and organize campaigns to defend our democracy from authoritarian threats and advance America’s promise that everyone will enjoy freedom, safety and a vote that counts.

Campaign for Our Shared Future (COSF)  is a non-partisan effort to support high-quality K-12 education and preserve access, inclusion, and meaningful content in our schools so that every student has an opportunity to succeed and thrive. COSF is a common ground effort committed to fighting the attack on education across the country.

Defense of Democracy advocates for legislators, educators, and administrators who will work to maintain communities as well as a public education system that supports and enhances our shared experiences regardless of religious beliefs, cultural background, or sexual orientation.

Education Voters of Pennsylvania has a mission to ensure elected officials adopt and implement a pro-public education agenda. We advocate for sound education policy and build and mobilize the public to ensure that support for quality public education and an opportunity to learn for all children is a top priority for decision makers.

Grandparents For Truth is a group of grandparents and their allies organized by People For the American Way who are fighting for the next generation’s freedom to learn, and who are resisting authoritarian attacks on the freedom to teach the full truth about our history and culture. Learn more about Grandparents for Truth.

Moms Rising is a network of people just like you, united by the goal of building a more family-friendly America.

New Pennsylvania Project is a voting rights organization with a year-round primary focus on voter registration, civic education and mobilization. NPP centers historically disenfranchised and often neglected Black, Indigenous and other people of color, immigrant communities and the youth in our work. Through civic engagement, we ensure all eligible voters feel compelled to exercise their freedom to vote in the Commonwealth.

PFLAG is an organization of LGBTQ+ people, parents, families, and allies who work together to create an equitable and inclusive world. We are hundreds of thousands of people and hundreds of chapters from coast to coast who are leading with love to support families, educate allies, and advocate for just, equitable, and inclusive legislation and policies. Since our founding in 1973, PFLAG works every day to ensure LGBTQ+ people everywhere are safe, celebrated, empowered and loved. Learn more, find support, donate, and take action at PFLAG.org.

Red Wine & Blue is a sisterhood working to change the world together, one suburb at a time. Red Wine & Blue provides everything women need to successfully organize in their communities and beyond.

Stop Moms for Liberty is a nonpartisan, focused movement to unite education advocates across the US to fight against the unwanted takeover of our country by far right-wing funded “moms for liberty” groups.