Commentary: We Are Seeing a Widespread Rejection of Moms for Liberty, Anti-Trans Policies

by David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Since last August when the library incident and subsequent bombs threats occurred, it raised the profile of the local Moms for Liberty Chapter as well as its president.  That brought a lot of attention on the community and also on the person of Beth Bourne.

But what was not clear was whether that would translate to actual policy victories by the group.  It seemed unlikely, and yet many continued to argue that there was some sort of silent majority.

If there is—they are truly silent.

Bourne and others tried to make opposition to the local district parcel tax a center of their campaign, arguing, “The days of glory of this District are gone. They are more interested in indoctrinating kids with gender-sexual ideology and anti-parent policies than teaching the basics Civics, English Math and Science.”

The measure passed anyway with more than 68 percent of the vote and that message did not seem to have any traction.

Davis was always an odd location to attempt a cultural war tactic.  This is a community where, in 2020, Trump did not break 15 percent of the vote.

A better test might have been Woodland—blue but not nearly as blue as Davis.

Last year, a Woodland School Board member called “transgenderism” a “social contagion.”

Local residents launched a recall of her.  The recall overwhelming succeeded.  While MacDonald resigned last week, seeing the writing on the wall, the recall passed with 63.6 percent of the vote.  A pretty strong repudiation for that position.

What’s remarkable, however, is that even as we go to less blue and even red parts of the state there is a repudiation of this culture war message.

Orange County, of course, for years was the heart of red California, but in recent years it has become more blue.

Two Orange County School Board conservatives were ousted in March recalls with LGBTQ+ policies at the center of the issue.

The centerpiece was a standard red state proviso passed by Orange Unified School District of a parent-notification policy requiring educators to inform parents when a student requests “to be identified as a gender other than that student’s biological sex or the gender listed on the birth certificate or any other official records.”

AG Rob Bonta has pursued court challenges of such policies enacted by a handful of conservative-leaning school boards, but that’s a statewide elected official coming down from Sacramento.  This is a local voting group that said, enough.

The LA Times noted, “The recall came to be an early litmus test on the resonance with voters of issues that have roiled school boards throughout the nation: the teaching of racism and Black history, the rights of LGBTQ+ youth versus the rights of their parents, restrictions on LGBTQ+ symbols and related curriculum, and the removal of library books with sexual content — especially LGBTQ+ content — from school libraries.”

The Times added, “In such education tilts, Ledesma, a veteran school board member, and Miner, a newcomer, were warriors who took high-profile, aggressively conservative stands in front of cheering audiences of the like-minded. Their supporters included some district parents, but many attending the board’s most raucous meeting in September were religious conservatives without children in public schools, including some from well outside the community.”

The message is becoming clear.  This stuff isn’t going to fly in California.  And if you attempt it, you are going to have to fight the Governor and AG, and potentially face a recall.

Even as we move to deeper red parts of the state like Shasta County.

The LA Times reported earlier this week, “Shasta County voters have booted from office a key figure in the county’s hard-right shift, even as the fate of a second far-right crusader on the powerful Board of Supervisors still hangs in the balance.”

The Times noted, “Patrick Jones, a former chair of the five-member board, was soundly defeated in the Super Tuesday election, according to results released by the county registrar Friday afternoon. With 98% of the vote counted, Jones’ opponent, Matt Plummer, a nonprofit advisor, was winning outright with nearly 60% of the vote.”

They added, “It was a stunning turn for Jones, a gun store manager who in his one term in office has emerged as a leading voice in an ultraconservative insurgence that transformed this largely rural Northern California county into a national symbol of hard-right governance and election denialism.”

Meanwhile, a key ally, Supervisor Kevin Crye, “was surviving a recall election by just 46 votes. Crye made headlines last year when he enlisted support for nixing Dominion machines from Mike Lindell, the MyPillow chief executive and pro-Trump election denier.”

Then there’s Temecula.

On January 22, 2024, the county announced that enough signatures had been verified to schedule a recall election for June 4.

A Board resolution that was particularly sweeping included the “forced outing policy” requiring “schools to inform parents, with minimal exceptions, whenever a student requests to use a name or pronoun different from that on their birth certificate or official records, even without the student’s permission and when doing so would put them at risk of harm.

“The policy also requires notification if a student requests to use facilities or participates in programs that don’t align with their gender or sex on official records.”

AG Bonta filed an Amicus brief in support of a lawsuit arguing that the enactments violated students constitutional rights.

“Schools have an obligation to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment, with curricula that reflect the contributions of California’s diverse communities,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Temecula Valley Unified’s policies banning inclusive curriculum and forcibly outing transgender and gender-nonconforming students single out California’s most vulnerable individuals, severely harming their well-being and academic success. In the face of ongoing attacks in California and across the nation, my office will continue to stand up against any measures that compromise the civil rights of students.”

“You’re seeing more and more political types showing up on these schools boards,” said Jeff Pack, co-founder of the One Temecula Valley PAC, who supports the recall of Komrosky. “And now you’re seeing people push back on that.

“They’re saying we don’t want politicians on school boards; we want people who are going to the best for schools and children, and students and staff and teachers that we love.”

One story made an interesting point: “many of the people who signed the recall petition were conservative.”

As Pack explained, “They may think there should be more conservative values at the school board level, but they said they didn’t sign up to destroy the public school system and attack teachers and attack kids for exercising their rights.

“They just want (board members) to do what’s right for Temecula. And at the school board level, to make sure kids have the best education possible. If you’re not doing that, and you’re just creating bogeymen to scare people and try to feel like you’re accomplishing something, that’s just not going to work for very long.”

The Temecula recall of course has not occurred yet, but for those who argue that schools need to focus more on core educational missions, these types of drives are actually distracting from that mission.

This issue has not been nearly the wedge issue that some of the supporters had thought it would be.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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