Moms for Liberty counter protests scheduled in Philly this weekend

Protesters stand in front of the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown.
Protesters at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. (Photo by Jason Villemez)

In response to the Moms for Liberty (M4L) national summit taking place at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown from June 30-July 2, numerous progressive civil-rights and pro-democracy organizations will be holding protests in Philly. M4L’s raison d’être is steeped in banning books in school libraries, advocating for anti-trans school policies and condemning classroom instruction involving LGBTQ+ topics, race, racism and slavery. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump are among the speakers at this year’s summit.

The Southern Poverty Law Center classified M4L an extremist group, describing them as “a far-right organization that engages in anti-student inclusion activities and self-identifies as part of the modern parental rights movement.” 

Former Florida school board members Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich created M4L in 2021, with an original mission of pushing back against mask and vaccine requirements in schools during the pandemic. In addition to advocating for book bans and educational restrictions, M4L endorses far-right political candidates, pushes for the elimination of the Department of Education and uses their platforms to perpetuate ideas that vilify the LGBTQ+ community. 

M4L’s conference at the Marriott and June 29 welcome reception at the Museum of the American Revolution (MOAR) have already yielded substantial backlash, including from ACT UP Philadelphia and state lawmakers. This past May, state Sen. Nikil Saval and Reps. Mary Isaacson and Ben Waxman wrote a letter to Philadelphia Marriott leadership demanding a rationale for why they’re hosting an extremist group like M4L. 

The letter reads in part: “Hosting an organization with a track record of promoting discriminatory practices and divisive policies goes against the principles of inclusivity and respect that should be upheld by a reputable establishment like yours.”

Marriott hotels received a 100% score on the 2022 Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, despite the fact that the hotel chain has hosted the M4L summit before in a different location. 

Staffers from MOAR expressed their contempt for the museum leadership’s decision to host M4L’s opening event on June 29. This manifested in a petition submitted to Dr. R. Scott Stephenson, the museum’s president and CEO, which was signed by more than 60% of staffers, PGN reported. Plus, the Philadelphia Senate Delegation penned a letter to Stephenson calling for the cancellation of M4L’s opening reception. 

During its weekend-long summit, M4L itself plans to hold actions at numerous Center City Free Library branches that are hosting LGBTQ+-centric events, like Drag Queen Story Hours. They are planning to target the Philadelphia City Institute on Rittenhouse Square, Independence Library near Washington Square, and the Children’s Department and Field Teen Center, departments of the Central Branch on the Parkway, PGN reported

Philly advocacy groups are also planning counter protests, which are listed below. 

Thursday, June 29

Banned Book Giveaway
Campaign for Our Shared Future (COSF)
12:30-3 p.m.
12th and Filbert streets

COSF Executive Director Heather Harding, COSF staff and local advocates will come together to hand out free, age-appropriate books that have been banned or challenged by groups like M4L. COSF is a non-partisan initiative that advocates for “high-quality K-12 education and preserves access, inclusion and meaningful content in our schools.” 

Rally Against Moms for Liberty
National Parents Union
3 p.m.
Love Park in Center City

National Parents Union will join in the pushback against M4L’s presence in Philly with its own rally. National Parents Union is a parent-led organization that pushes for policies that support families and foster educational equity. 

Dance Party Protest
ACT UP Philadelphia and Young Communist League
5 p.m. -9 p.m.
Museum of the American Revolution
101 S. 3rd Street 

Local advocates and activists from AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power and Young Communist League will “party in protest” of M4L’s presence and its anti-LGBTQ+ agenda.  

Friday, June 30

Dance Party Protest
ACT UP Philly and Young Communist League
9 a.m.-9 p.m.
12th and Filbert streets

People for the American Way/Grandparents for Truth Rally 
Multiple orgs
9 a.m.-11 a.m.
Philadelphia Marriott Downtown

People for the American Way and allied organizations will host a slew of speakers and a rally with allied organizations to protest M4L’s presence and agenda. The event is co-sponsored by COSF, PA STOP Moms for Liberty, Defense of Democracy and ACT UP Philadelphia. PFAW will also announce the launch of its new initiative Grandparents for Truth, a group of grandparents who are pushing back against organizations like M4L. 

Speakers include state Sen. Nikil Saval, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, PFAW President Svante Myrick, Mazzoni Center President and Executive Officer Sultan Shakir, ACT UP organizer Jazmyn Henderson, City Council member Isaiah Thomas and others.  

Rally for Freedom to Read
Indivisible Philadelphia
12 p.m.
Parkway Central Library
1901 Vine Street 

Indivisible Philadelphia, which educates, engages and mobilizes around progressive values, will hold a counter rally to let M4L members know that they will fight attempted book bans and protect communities from M4L’s rhetoric. After the rally, the group will march to the Marriott to join in other protests. 

Saturday, July 1

Dance Party and Protest
ACT UP Philly and Young Communist League
9 a.m.-9 p.m.
12th and Filbert streets

Fabulous Families for Freedom Rally
Philly Children’s Movement and Philly Childcare Collective
11 a.m.-1 p.m.
12th and Filbert streets

Philly Children’s Movement and Philly Childcare Collective (PCC) are teaming up to protest M4L in the form of a kid-centric dance party, sign-making, banned books, chalk for drawing and capes to decorate. Philly Children’s Movement is a collective of families and educators who fight for racial and intersectional justice, and PCC provides free childcare for activist meetings and events. 

Sunday, July 2

Dance Party Protest
ACT UP Philly and Young Communist League
9 a.m.-2 p.m.
12th and Filbert streets