Here’s How Moms For Liberty Is Lying About Books

Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

This week across the book banning social media world, a new guidebook to inappropriate books across the state of Iowa has been circulating. This 111 page guidebook, put together by Moms For Liberty in Polk County, reiterates that their quest to remove inappropriate books from schools is not about book banning. Indeed, they use the Stephen King philosophy to suggest that just because they do not want books in schools does not mean that students cannot get them from public libraries (conveniently leaving out their quest to get those books removed in public libraries, too).

The booklet, which you can access in full here, also makes ample use of the home-grown Moms for Liberty book rating system, BookLook/BookLooks. They do not mention that it is their own creation.

In addition to highlighting the books they deem inappropriate, they offer a QR code to their group’s own reviews, and they indicate where in Iowa schools the books are located. This is how so many of these groups operate: they recruit volunteers to spend their one wild and precious life scouring catalogs in school libraries to find what they deem to be naughty books.

But here’s where to pay attention: Moms for Liberty is lying throughout the book.

Page 58 details how Toni Morrison’s classic The Bluest Eye is available in several schools throughout the state. In addition to the standard cherry-picking of passages to highlight–clearly ignoring any indication of even pretending that The Miller Test is the standard for obscenity–the book includes a letter sent from Johnston High School’s educators about the book’s use in junior AP Language and Composition class.

screen shot of page 58 in moms for liberty book guide

Guess what is not included in the booklet, either within the section on The Bluest Eye or elsewhere?

The second page of the letter sent to all parents of students in that class. The second page of the letter wherein parents are explicitly told they can opt their students out.

second page of letter sent to AP parents in Johnston schools, IA

Wild, isn’t it, how Moms For Liberty wants to be the authority on reading by cherry picking the passages they deem inappropriate while also conveniently leaving out the fact they’ve been granted “parental rights” by educators this entire time? Or the fact that The Bluest Eye is ONE CHOICE among several for study?

This book is being passed around dozens of groups, creating a false sense of urgency about naughty books in school libraries. But it’s a full circle of committing and recommitting to the cause of Moms For Liberty and not at all about the books, curriculum, education, or “parental rights.” The group chooses to ignore their own rights in order to build a case for how they deserve to remove books and curriculum from schools.

They’ve been lying to you since their formation. Now they’re codifying the lies, sharing them, and crying victim.

The only victims here are the kids who have to grow up under this regime and the teachers whose careers and lives are being destroyed by a well-funded, right-wing group.

Oh, and this Moms for Liberty chapter? They’ve not only had several members pull their kids from the public schools and send them to private schools–where now they’ll potentially be able to get taxpayer money to do just that, thanks to new laws in Iowa–but the governor is their partner in it all.

It’s one lie of thousands this group has perpetuated. But aided and abetted by legislators across the country, their targeted destruction of public education will continue to grow until those who are committed to First Amendment Rights for all put an end to it.