Man with binoculars staring at LGBTQIA flag

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EXCLUSIVE: Inside ‘Pride Watch,’ a 13,000-strong Facebook group outing schools for LGBTQ celebrations

The group says kids walking past Pride celebrations have to navigate a ‘sexuality-and-gender-ideology-gauntlet.’

 

Tricia Crimmins

Tech

In a recent post on its Facebook page, the Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI) fretted about the “worst feeling” a parent could have: When their child comes home from school and starts “talking about something they learned or participated in.”

Something, it worries, that “sexualizes them, confuses them, or violates [their] family’s beliefs.” 

Since its inception, MFI has claimed that threat comes in the form of sex education, which it’s worked to oppose. 

But now, it has found an even bigger concern—and it’s enlisted its 13,000-person-strong Facebook group, Massachusetts Informed Parents, to expose it.

At the end of May, MFI launched “Pride Watch,” calling on parents to report any instance of even the most innocuous displays of support for the LGBTQ community in the state’s public schools.

“Pride Month,” it wrote in the announcement, “has become a giant, glittery, rainbow-colored excuse to bring discussions of sexuality and gender confusion into K-12 schools.”

MFI has long been concerned that schools are secretly working to sexualize and confuse children. The conservative religious non-profit wants to defend “family values” and is a far-right island in a sea of progressive Massachusetts policies and laws that protect the rights of transgender people, the LGBTQ community, and gender-affirming care.

It promotes church rights and the concept of “biblical marriage” and contributes widely to the anti-woke movement. In 2023, MFI hosted Florida governor and “wokeness” opponent Ron DeSantis at its annual fundraising banquet, themed “The Battle for Our Children.”

Specifically, MFI has made Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) its enemy. 

CSE teaches kids about reproductive health, sex, and sexuality. But MFI claims it’s “designed to change the sexual and gender norms of society, promote high-risk sexual behaviors, and encourage even the youngest of children to experiment sexually.”

CSE, it believes, is a cover for the LGBTQ infiltration into public schools. In its Facebook group, parents are encouraged to share articles and information related to LGBTQ public school initiatives—and crowdsource resources to help raise their children in line with MFI’s values.

“Massachusetts Informed Parents needs your help spreading the word about our efforts to equip parents and protect kids from harmful sexualization and dangerous indoctrination in transgender ideology in our schools,” MFI’s director of communications wrote in the group’s first post in January 2020.

Many of the group’s posts come from the MFI’s communications team, who are admins on the page.

MFI did not respond to a Daily Dot request for comment.

The group kicked off “Pride Watch” because “parents (and taxpayers!) have a right to know what is happening in their local district.”

“If you’re a member of this group, you probably share our concern about injecting queer theory, or sexualized ideologies in general, into the public school classroom,” the post read. “And if you’re a member of this group, you’re probably a busy parent of school-aged kids, who very much wants to protect their kids from sexualization and indoctrination, but could use some help navigating this issue.”

The group says it doesn’t “endorse harassment of any of these districts” but the displays flagged spark virulent responses in the comments from the group’s members, who demand police be called to save students from “sexual abuse.”

The tenor and fervor match other far-right factions, which have pushed the conspiracy theory that the LGBTQ community—and teachers who include lessons on sexuality and gender in their curriculum—are grooming children, either to molest them or recruit them into the “LGBTQ cult.” 

These allegations and instances of moral panic are considered homophobic smear campaigns by many LGBTQ Americans.

But the idea that LGBTQ people groom children has persisted, in part thanks to far-right figures and groups like Chaya Raichik, who runs the anti-LGBTQ X account, @LibsOfTikTok, and Gays Against Groomers, an anti-trans organization with large presences on Instagram and X.

Pride Month is a marquee opportunity for those who are opponents of the LGBTQ community to rally against it, as many members of the Massachusetts Informed Parents Facebook group have. 

They’ve been incredibly receptive to Pride Watch and left many enthusiastic, homophobic comments.

“Someone please explain what they are so proud of?” one group member wrote. “I just am not understanding why they need a parade and a flag.”

“They can’t reproduce so they recruit children,” another member said, reiterating LGBTQ grooming conspiracies.

One anonymous member posted that a public high school celebrated the LGBTQ community in April with a panel on queer identities, an event on queer history, and a webinar with trans journalist and activist Erin Reed.

“These kids actually pretend to be gay because it’s trendy,” a group member commented on the post. Another person wrote that the celebration amounted to the sexual abuse of children, demanding it be reported to the cops.

Other anonymous members recently posted a photo of an elementary school with a rainbow sign that said “Newton Public Schools Celebrate LGBTQIA+ Pride” and a screenshot of an email from a preschool teacher in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts about Pride Month. 

The email suggested kids could make a rainbow flag out of yarn to learn about supporting the LGBTQ community.

“The only difference between a gay person and a straight person is who they prefer to have sex with,” a group member commented about the email. “So why this is even a topic for toddlers is beyond sick. This is grooming.”

“Why are we making pride seem like it’s a good thing?” another group member wrote. “Straight or not pride destroys. Pride goes before the fall.” 

Pride being a sin in Christianity was frequently referenced in the Facebook group and criticized as a concept counter to Christian values. 

But even anodyne messages promoting “love” spark the group’s ire.

Last week, photos of rainbow hearts and a “Love Wins” sign outside a public high school in Seekonk, Massachusetts were shared by a concerned parent.

“These hearts are all around the building, by the entrance, and near where kids get off the bus,” read the post. “Why does this need to be in kids faces when they are just trying to go to school?”

In a statement to the Daily Dot, Seekonk High School’s principal, Dr. William Whalen, said the school is “inclusive and supports all students.”

“Our GSA [Gay Straight Alliance] requests approval annually to put some signage outside on the property in honor of Pride Month,” Whalen told the Daily Dot. “The administration and faculty at Seekonk High want students to feel that their school is a safe place for everyone in the school community.”

But while GSAs in schools work to bring kids of different identities together to organize and build community, members in the group have harsh words for the clubs. 

“GSA” one member said, equals “sick f*cks.”

The group also took aim at an Instagram post about a city’s mayor meeting with the town high school’s LGBTQ+ club and asked group members to take photos of another school’s Pride-themed bulletin board that had previously circulated. 

“Looks like Medfield is celebrating ‘Pride Month’ early, too,” an admin posted alongside a photo of the bulletin board. “Do any of our Medfield friends want to post a clearer picture of that bulletin board in back of the circ desk?”

This isn’t the first year MFI has attempted to expose schools for celebrating Pride Month: Last year, the group posted on its Substack about a Hamilton-Wenham, Massachusetts elementary school’s Pride celebrations the year prior, which included rainbow chalk drawings near the school’s entrance.

“Call us crazy if you will, but we don’t think students should have to walk through a sexuality-and-gender-ideology-gauntlet just to get into their school building,” it wrote in their Substack. “Parents, if this is happening in Hamilton-Wenham, it could be happening in your district too.”

The group boasted that, because of its coverage, the Pride display wasn’t posted on social media in 2023. But for all the group’s efforts, it seems like schools aren’t that easily dissuaded. 

“We know that a district doesn’t abandon their woke affections that easily, so we checked back in last month to see if they are planning another Rainbow Day this year,” the group’s Pride Watch kick-off post read. “Lo and behold, they are.”

Meaning that despite all the effort and outing, Pride marches on.


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