Scarlett Johnson gets emotional at how far-left hatred made her want to quit her battle against the sexualization of young children in public schools – and how her Marine father’s unyielding belief in her made her fight on.
It’s now her own urgent exhortation to other parents: Fight on.
“In that moment, I learned that we all, in our own small way in our own small corner of the world, we have the chance to be brave,” she told a parents rally last week in Wisconsin. “We have the opportunity to make a difference. All we have to do is take the chance. And if we do, we will be forever changed.”
Johnson, a Wisconsin county chair for grassroots group Moms for Liberty, was one of several battle-scarred parents and their foot soldiers who spoke at the July 25 rally in the Milwaukee area on the future of K-12 education nationally. The event was hosted by the Herzog Foundation, purveyor of The Lion, in conjunction with the American Federation for Children and No Left Turn in Education.
While battling the sexualization of young children in public schools, Johnson has fought against a preschool book called “The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish”; against the forces that openly tell children “If your parents aren’t accepting of your identity, I’m your mom now”; and against teachers encouraging 1st graders to explore different pronouns, including “tree.”
“Maybe they should know what a noun is first,” she notes dryly.
The mother of five has also run the gauntlet of a combative and contemptuous far-left – as well as her own local newspaper, which she said insinuated she was a white supremacist. “I’m the first Puerto Rican white supremacist. I’m a really bad one,” she joked sardonically.
But she and other rally speakers said the wounds are worth the cost.
“It can be hard. It can be sad. But our kids are worth fighting for,” Johnson told the audience.
Alexandra Schweitzer, too, has had to fight with everything she has. Her Oconomowoc, Wisconsin Area School District threatened to sue her for defamation for standing up against age-inappropriate curricula there.
“I was told that I should cease and desist from demanding parental rights,” she told the rally of a threatening letter from school district lawyers. “I was told that I should cease and desist asking for all students to receive an education, not an indoctrination. I was told that I should cease and desist from exercising my First Amendment right.”
Nonprofit law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) not only ended that threat with a letter pointing out the obvious illegality of the school district’s threats, but also discovered age-inappropriate materials in the schools.
“These books were sexually graphic and intentionally confusing,” Schweitzer said, “with cartoonish figures of men and women having sexual intercourse in every plausible partnership one can imagine. … And our youngest minds were told that their gender identity was not what was ‘assigned to them at birth.’ It was what the child felt like it should be.”
“There’s been a shift in some circles,” Luke Berg, WILL deputy counsel, told the crowd, “from viewing school as a partnership with parents to the statist, and I believe misguided, view that parents are the problem for which public school is the solution.
“Schools seem to be spending more and more time and energy indoctrinating our kids with the latest soup of the day, rather than the foundation they need to function successfully in society: reading, writing, math, science, history, art and music.”
Berg, too, encouraged parents to fight on:
“The No. 1 thing we need to right this ship is you: parents. Parents who are vigilant, who care enough to pay attention to what’s happening and then do something about it. Parents who are willing to fight for their schools and their kids.”
Berg rattled off a series of WILL’s legal victories, including:
- a successful defense of three 8th-grade boys accused of sexual harassment for “mis-pronouning” – failing to use a classmate’s preferred pronouns;
- preventing a city from banning campaign signs in the Mequon-Thiensville School Board recall;
- blocking the Kenosha school district from preventing a mom from observing her son’s class;
- and getting the Elmbrook school district to remove sexually explicit books.
WILL also has lawsuits against the Madison and Kettle Moraine school districts for policies that allegedly exclude parents from the decision about whether their children will transition to a different gender identity at school. WILL is also suing the Madison district for open records regarding gender training materials given to its staff.
Parents not only have to fight such outrages, however reluctantly, but must do so publicly and loudly, Berg said, “because fighting back quietly doesn’t change the culture that spawned this. These parents never sought out media attention. But when wokeness came for them and their children, they had the courage to speak out publicly against it.
“That’s how we change things.”
And changing things often doesn’t require more than one or two engaged and stalwart parents, added rally emcee and radio talk show/podcast host Chris Stigall. “All it takes is a couple of committed parents in a school district to stand up for what is right. And isn’t it amazing how magnetizing that is for others who agree?”
In 1868, Schweitzer told the crowd, President Andrew Johnson warned of overreaching local officials taking over the schools that parents entrusted their children to.
“This lies in stark contrast of public schools today, where we see school boards engaging in bully tactics. They look to control the child [and] deny the reality that the parent is the primary educator of the child, and the school system is there to support the parent, not replace the parent.”
It shouldn’t have come to this, Schweitzer says, but it has. And parents must stand up to it.
“We have come to a period in our glorious nation’s history where a parent has to have permission to see their child in school,” she said, “where we the parents are shamed for asking a question about lesson plans and ridiculed for raising our children in our image.
“We must never forget that the indelible American spirit is not something that we surrender at the door of our children’s schools. Together, we can and must remind the elected officials that we will never co-parent with the government.”
“Believe it or not,” Johnson said, “I think we should count it joy to be in this fight. How lucky are we to be born in such a time as this! Our country stands on a precipice, and we have the opportunity to leave this world better than we found it. This is our moment. …
“What this moment demands of us is bravery.”