Catherine Sofikitis, a Democratic lawmaker in New Hampshire, recently made a comparison between a prominent parental rights group and the Taliban while also using derogatory language to describe its members.
Sofikitis, a liberal state lawmaker, responded to a tweet asking for opinions on Moms for Liberty, an organization led by former school board members dedicated to advocating for parental rights at all levels of government. Sofikitis likened the group to terrorists, stating, “Assholes with casseroles, Taliban in minivan.”
This incident occurred in the context of New Hampshire Democrats rejecting parental rights initiatives in the state legislature. In May, state Democrats narrowly defeated a bill that aimed to prevent public schools from withholding information from parents, even in cases where a student’s gender identity had changed. The vice president of New Hampshire’s American Federation of Teachers chapter went as far as threatening to withdraw support from any state Democrat who supported this legislation.
Tina Descovich, co-founder of Moms for Liberty, criticized Sofikitis’s tweet and urged the Democrat to collaborate with parents in securing a better future for all children rather than demonizing them. Sofikitis, who did not respond to requests for comment, stood by her remarks. In a tweet responding to a progressive activist praising her, she expressed gratitude and shared a video that referred to Moms for Liberty members as “Momzis,” while promoting a liberal candidate for the state legislature who labeled the group as “extremist.”
Sofikitis is not the only New Hampshire Democrat who has recently denigrated parental rights advocates. Her colleague in the New Hampshire House, Tom Hoyt, made disparaging remarks towards a parent who urged him to support a parental rights measure. Hoyt stated, “Do you know why children’s results tanked during COVID? Their parents were incompetent teachers. Do your children a favor, let the teachers teach, and shut up. You’re clearly no professional.”
Similar challenges to parental involvement in public schools have emerged in other northeastern states, including New Jersey. Attorney General Matt Platkin has filed lawsuits against four school districts in the past two months over policies that require teachers to inform parents if their child publicly changes their gender identity. In June, Platkin issued guidance warning public school officials that implementing blanket bans on flags, posters, and symbols to maintain political neutrality could result in legal action.
Moms for Liberty has faced controversy before. The Southern Poverty Law Center included the group on its “hate map” alongside groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis last month. Moms for Liberty is based out of Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill, which opponents dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Advocates of this proposed law argue that it aims to empower parents to decide when and how to address LGBTQ topics with their children. Additionally, it provides parents with the ability to take legal action against a school district if the policy is disregarded. Before signing the law, DeSantis held a press conference where he expressed his opinion that teaching young children in kindergarten that they can be anything they want to be was not appropriate.