How an upstart conservative group is taking Christian nationalist politics local

by | Jul 12, 2023 | Religion

ORLANDO, Fla. (RNS) — Last summer, when Miami-Dade County’s school board reversed itself, voting to reject two sex education textbooks for use in its middle and high schools, The New York Times reported that the school board had folded to “pressure from parents empowered by a new state education law” — specifically Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Parental Rights in Education Act, more familiarly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.Yet, according to accounts of the July public comment session where the vote was taken, all but two of the 38 who came to the microphones voiced their support for the sex ed curriculum. The pressure to ban the textbooks, local activists say, came instead from conservative groups, particularly Citizens Defending Freedom, which gave interviews to local media and pressured board members to ban references to abortion or gender identity “ideology” in schools.
“I think it was like two or three people from Moms for Liberty, and then one or two people from CDF,” recalled Maxx Fenning, executive director for Prism, a South Florida organization which advocates for LGBTQ inclusion that championed the two textbooks in Miami-Dade.
While CDF is hardly a household name, its activists have become regular voices before school boards and in other public meetings across Texas, Georgia and especially Florida since the group was founded roughly two years ago.
Retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn speaks at an event for County Citizens Defending Freedom in Dade County, Fla. Video scre …

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