Moms for Liberty SLAMS PEN America over false allegations of book banning

"People are entitled to their own opinions, but they’re not entitled to their own truth and their own facts. And there are facts here at play that are important," Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice said.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice hit back at PEN America for falsely reporting that the group advocated for banning a book about girls coding from a Pennsylvania school district. Speaking with The Post Millennial, Justice said that Moms for Libery did not even have a chapter local to the area where the book was under review during the period in which the book was under review.

In a Tuesday morning conversation with Steve Bannon, Justice explained that the saga began with a Newsweek article published last week, which covered the 1,648 books that were banned across the US, aggregated into a list by PEN America.

Among those books banned in states across the country were books from the "Girls Who Code" series, which centers around a group of grade school-aged friends who like to code.

PEN America states that books from the series had been banned in the Central York School District, though a representative of the district told Newsweek that the book had not been taken off of shelves in the library.

"The Girls Who Code series was included in a Diversity Resource List, along with approximately 200 other resources, that was removed from the Central York School District in November of 2020," the representative stated.

The district added that "The Girls Who Code series remained in circulation from November 2020 to September 2021 when the Diversity Resource List was reinstated by the Central York School District Board of Directors."

"This book series has not been banned within our district, and they remain available in our libraries."

Despite this statement, the founder of the organization Girls Who Code as well as the wife of current Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman wrongly blamed Moms for Liberty for the book being banned.

Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani took to Twitter to air her grievances over the book allegedly being banned, writing on Tuesday, "I am glad to see this story continue to gain traction in the media, because the banning of books about girls learning to code — in any school, for any amount of time — is frankly terrifying. And for those who are asking if the books were 'really' banned, they were."

Saujani stated that the series had been included in a list of diversity resources that the school district voted to ban.

"Nationwide, groups like Moms for Liberty are leading efforts to ban books representing diverse perspectives, driving an extremist far-right agenda to control women, people of color, LGBTQ+ communities, anyone that does not maintain the white supremacist patriarchal status quo," she wrote, despite this not being true.

Justice has attempted to get answers from Saujani, posting a screenshot to Twitter of a message to which Saujani has yet to reply.

Gisele Fetterman also blamed the group for the series being taken off the school’s shelves, writing, "'Moms for Liberty' is anti women and girls in STEM. Make it make sense. It’s only ever been about one thing: control."

"I'm here just to let Gisele know that I'm a woman, and I have a daughter and our entire organization is really women working together, collaborating, and we empower women all across the country," Justice told Bannon on Tuesday.

"And it's important that, as you say all the time, speak truth to power. So I'm here to tell Gisele and everyone else we love women and girls. We want lots of girls to go into science, technology, engineering and math. I served as a school board member as did Tina Descovich, the co-founder of moms for liberty, and we were involved in many specific programs, trying to get girls into science and technology and coding," she added.

"So this all came from an author who was desperate to sell her book, who decided that she was going to throw Moms for Liberty under the bus, and unfortunately, media in this country was all too happy to help her to do that."

Justice continued on to call out Newsweek, saying, "so just to call out to Newsweek. I know they have an opinion editor there... Batya Ungar-Sargon, she wrote a book that was called 'Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy.' And I just want to hear from Newsweek here because I think this was clickbait, race baiting. They entertained an author who lied and Steve, as I told you yesterday, it took us like 21 minutes to debunk this, to fact check this claim. We went right to the district."

In an interview with Business Insider published on Tuesday, Saujani doubled down on her claims, telling the outlet that she thought the move to ban the book was "part of a larger effort by Moms for Liberty," the outlet reported.

"I was just shocked," Saujani said. "This is about controlling women and it starts with controlling our girls and what info they have access to." 

"We use these stories to teach kids to code," Saujani said. "It felt very much like a direct attack on the movement we've been building to get girls coding. Especially in districts that don't have the technology or have disparate Wi-Fi, books are a great way to learn to code and a way to equalize access to coding." 

The Central York Banned Book Club wrote on Twitter that the book series had been placed on a list aside other books at the beginning of the last school year, though "the books were never removed from library shelves. In fact, Girls Who Code has ALWAYS been strongly supported by our district."

"However, when you let far-right extremist set the agenda this is the result. Books like this get out on banned book lists. This was the case with our previous school board. But this story has a happy ending," they wrote.

According to a representative who spoke with Business Insider, the book had been banned for a 10-month period ending in September of 2021 with the reversal of the ban.

In a press release from Moms for Liberty, Justice and Descovich said, "The allegations that Moms for Liberty has worked to ban 'Girls Who Code' are completely false. Furthermore, the Central York school district has confirmed the book is currently sitting on library shelves."

"Where are we in this country when the media can publish an article without even fact-checking with the district and quote an author who lies and villainizes concerned parents to sell more copies of her books?" She asked. "Moms for Liberty will continue to fight for fundamental parental rights because curating age-appropriate content for a school library is not banning books, it is empowering parents to be involved in their children's education."

The Central York School District wrote in an email to the group that "the information published in this article is categorically false. This book has not been banned, and they remain available in our libraries."

"You know, Steve, people are entitled to their own opinions, but they’re not entitled to their own truth and their own facts. And there are facts here at play that are important," Justice said on Bannon’s War Room.

Justice cited a famous quote, saying "lies travel around the world before the truth has a chance to put boots on."

She added that because of these articles, her group of mothers is being branded as "racist," and members are receiving death threats.

Justice also noted the content of other books that should be taken off of school shelves, saying that group members have had their microphones cut off at meetings just for citing the materials in these books.

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