Moms for Liberty co-founder spars with MSNBC host Joy Reid over parental rights: 'No one's banning books'

Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice appears on MSNBC's 'The ReidOut,' Jan. 19, 2024.
Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice appears on MSNBC's "The ReidOut," Jan. 19, 2024. | Screenshot: YouTube/Moms for Liberty

A parental rights activist sparred with MSNBC opinion host Joy Reid over parental rights and the presence of sexually explicit books promoting pedophilia in public schools that have become the target of removal efforts from concerned parents and citizens across the United States. 

Tiffany Justice, the co-founder of the parental rights advocacy group Moms for Liberty, appeared on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” Friday to defend efforts to remove sexually explicit books from public school libraries. During the interview, Justice pushed back on the narrative embraced by Reid and others that these actions amount to “book bans.”

“No one’s banning books. Write the book, print the book, publish the book, put the book in the public library, sell the book,” said Justice. “We’re talking about a public school library. Children don’t have unfettered access to the internet at school.”

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Justice detailed how she filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking to find out “what kinds of internet sites are banned in schools.”

She added, “The subject matter in the books that moms are concerned about are the same things that kids don’t have access to on the internet, so it just feels very hypocritical. Why is no one out there protesting for ... ‘free the internet’ in schools?”

Reid asked Justice to elaborate on “the expertise that you have and other Moms for Liberty advocates have to decide that a book, an award-winning book like All Boys Aren’t Blue, isn’t appropriate for students to read.” After describing the book as “a tragic story of a young man who’s anally raped by his adult family member,” Justice identified some of the concerning content in the novel as “incest, rape, [and] pedophilia.”

Responding to Reid’s assertion that criticism of the books targeted for removal from school libraries by parental rights activists are based on “out-of-context” summaries of the works, Justice asked, “In what context is a strap-on dildo acceptable for public school?” She also urged Reid to evaluate “the context around the strap-on dildo or the rape of a minor child by a teacher.”

For her part, Reid defended the book as a “full context story,” recounting the “author’s experience” that enables children to “feel seen.” 

When asked why she and Moms for Liberty didn't simply support “opt-out forms” that require children to receive parental permission before checking books out of the school library, Justice agreed that they were “a wonderful step in the right direction.”

Much to the chagrin of Reid, Justice suggested that libraries “put all the books with all the graphic sexual content” and storylines involving dildos in a “backroom” and embrace the idea of putting “a curtain up in the library like we used to do at video stores” for explicit videos. 

Reid insisted that Moms for Liberty, parental rights groups and individual parents should not have the right to “take [a] book away and then say that a parent who wants their child to be able to read it must purchase it.” According to Reid, “That’s essentially putting a tax on parents who want their children to read the book. Your kids get to have books for free that you agree with but children who want to read, or parents who want their children to read books you don’t like have to purchase it.” 

Justice and Reid did reach a moment of agreement when the parental rights activist brought up how “only a quarter of children are reading on grade level” in Washington, D.C., where the interview was taking place. 

“We should be talking about literacy rates and the fact that America’s kids are not learning how to read,” Justice insisted. 

Reid attempted to connect the lackluster literacy rates in public schools to the fact that school officials on book review committees mandated by a parental rights law in Florida were tasked with determining whether or not such books should be removed from school libraries: “Were they not doing that, what they would be doing is literacy education.”

“That is what they’re not doing because they’re spending time on your book ban requests,” she said. Justice characterized Reid’s analysis as “absolutely ridiculous,” adding, “School districts do lots of things very, very well at the same time.”

The exchange between Reid and Justice comes as concerns about sexually explicit books in schools have made national headlines due to parents descending on school board meetings to read aloud excerpts of the books in question. A survey published earlier this month revealed that 60.32% of parents believe that school libraries should “restrict access to certain books based on a child’s age or require parental permission to check out certain books.”

Additionally, the survey found that 56.81% of parents expressed support for giving parents “a notification about everything their child checks out.” When asked if they favored school libraries implementing “content rating systems based on their appropriateness for different age groups or contents, similar to the rating systems used for movies, TV shows, or video games,” 80.23% answered in the affirmative. 

Just under half (49.54%) of parents thought “school libraries should only contain books appropriate for every age group in the school (i.e., the youngest and most sensitive readers).”

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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