“It’s so, so important to see other people like you in books. It’s so important to see pictures and stories about people who you can say ‘hey, I’m like them, that’s awesome! They’re cool, I’m cool, this is amazing,’” Oona, a fiery tween, told the crowd of close to 200 people, as they stood up at the mic with a hand-made sign reading “LGBTQ+ Books 4 All.”
Kids claimed the pick-up truck to leverage their signs and voices against Moms for Liberty. Photo by PCC’s Robin.
Oona set the tone for a number of other, younger kids to take the mic at the Fabulous Families for Freedom Rally on Saturday July 1. The Rally was in response to Moms for Liberty (MFL) hosting their national “Joyful Warriors” summit at the Philadelphia Downtown Marriott from June 29-July 2. MFL is the hateful “parental rights advocacy group” behind transphobic policies in schools, the erasure of Critical Race Theory and Social-Emotional Learning, and about half of national book bans.
Oliver showing off their sign, reading “Everybody can be who they want and have fun!” alongside their parent, MC Sam, and Act-Up organizer Jazmyn. Photo by PCC’s Robin.
The Fabulous Families for Freedom Rally came as part of a jam-packed weekend of sunrise-sunset protests put on by the Philadelphia Coalition to Stop Hate and headlined by Act-Up Philadelphia and the YCL, with MC Samantha Rise.
PCM noticed that lots of adults were talking about MFL and hypothesizing about how their hateful rhetoric and policies might impact kids — we wanted to hear from kids themselves!
Preparations: Kids Against Hate
Gearing up for the protest, we had an awesome crew of Kids Against Hate learning buddies on Zoom, where we started brainstorming this event. It was essential that kids were at the center from the event’s conception.
Hailing from as far as Florida, these kids had no shortage of ideas about what they wanted to tell Moms for Liberty, especially when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues, a primary target of MFL.
Collaborative Jamboard brainstorm from the Kids Against Hate teach-in on June 22
Our middle schoolers were caught on the group’s deceiving name: aren’t we taught that liberty is a good thing? Aren’t we supposed to trust moms? We were blown away by their critical thinking and ability to see right through this hate group that has fooled so many adults.
Running with their ideas — protests? Interviews with librarians? Capes? — we partnered with our friends at the Philly Childcare Collective (PCC) to make their vision come to life.
On Saturday morning, Filbert between 12th & 13th was all ours, practically bursting at the seams with rainbows, sparkles, and joy.
Some kids arrived with their signs already expertly crafted, like 11-year-old Maya’s, which read “I don’t judge people by their race, skin color, religion, or size. I judge people on whether they are a jerk or not,” alongside a James Baldwin quote.
Child holding a protest sign, reading “Trans Rights are Human Rights” in response to MFL’s attacks on trans youth. Photo by Carrie.
Others were drawn toward our table full of sign-making supplies and got right to work with stickers, markers, and powerful messages galore. Five-year-old Iris even expertly adjusted pride flags to use as handles on their sign, which read “I love my parents” with a big rainbow.
Kids hard at work making protest signs at capes at the Fabulous Families for Freedom Rally on July 1. Photo by Carrie.
Kids loved cape-making, a PCM classic. Wearing a cape saves kids the trouble of holding a protest sign and transforms them into an empowered superhero for change! We especially loved Faye’s beautiful cape with the simple message encapsulating our whole event: LOVE. The love of being in a queer- and BIPOC-led community of resistance and joy for the weekend was palpable.
Kid blowing bubbles and showing off their amazing homemade cape, highlighting the joy of Philly as a queer city. Photo by Carrie.
We were lucky enough to have the amazing drag artist Danny DeLorean join us for a drag story time, a highlight of the day, and share Pride 1,2,3, Pride Colors, and If You’re a Drag Queen and You Know It with our eager kiddos.
Drag performer Danny DeLorean captivates the attention of dozens of families with their pride storybooks and singing. Photo by Carrie.
Oliver wants everyone to know that: “Everybody can be what they want and have fun,” a surprisingly radical message to share outside of the MFL conference.
It’s time that adults pass the mic — literally and figuratively — to children to tell us what they care about and to guide our activism.
And the kids of Philly have a clear message to Moms for Liberty. As Elena put it, “You don’t belong here.”
Elena holds up a hand-made sign, reading “You don’t belong here,” directed at MFL and held up with their amazing pride flags. Photo by Carrie.
We’re so grateful for reporters who were committed to uplifting BIPOC, queer, and young voices to tell the true story of the summit and protests this past weekend. It’s so special to see PCM featured in these stories. Here are just a few to check out:
- Amazing photographs from Joe Piette
- Anti-trans agenda is a focal point of Philadelphia Moms for Liberty summit in the Philadelphia Inquirer
- Photos: Philadelphia dances in protest of Moms for Liberty summit in Billy Penn
- “Fascists Go Home!”: Philadelphians Reject Far Right “Moms for Liberty” in Truthout