The Advocate July/Aug 2022
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Publix Heiress Gives $50k to Anti-LGBTQ+ Moms for Liberty

Publix grocery store

An heiress to the Publix grocery chain has once again been revealed as a funder of right-wing extremism.

Julie Jenkins Fancelli, daughter of Publix founder George Jenkins, gave $50,000 to Moms for Liberty, a group “that pushes to make public schooling worse for LGBTQ children,” Orlando Weekly reports. Like Publix, it’s based in Florida. The donation, made in June, was the first major one to Moms for Liberty, and the money has gone to school board candidates, according to campaign finance records reviewed by the paper.

Last year, Fancelli was a leading funder of Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally, which questioned the results of the 2020 presidential election and led to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol January 6, 2021, in which Trump supporters violently interrupted Congress’s vote to certify that Joe Biden had won the election.

Moms for Liberty, which has 200 chapters across the nation, bills itself as a “parental rights” organization. Its website encourages parents to be informed about their children’s schooling and to ask questions about lessons on topics such as gender identity, unconscious racism, and more. The site doesn’t take direct stances on those issues, but coverage of the group’s recent summit in Tallahassee, Fla., paints a far less neutral picture.

“Teachers are brainwashing students into thinking they’re transgender or queer, several presenters said,” according to the Tallahassee Democrat. “Books and lessons teaching racial and gender equity are sowing division and hatred. And it’s all part of a mass indoctrination plan orchestrated by the far left to shut out parents, forgo basic responsibilities to teach reading and math, and corrupt young minds away from morality and patriotism.” They offered “little or no evidence to support their claims,” the paper notes.

One panel at the summit was titled “Gender Ideology in Our Schools,” in which speakers said “social contagion, in schools and on social media,” has convinced many young people they are transgender when they really aren’t, the Democrat reports. Studies have found no basis for this assertion.

But such rhetoric about LGBTQ+ youth is becoming widespread, and some supporters of Florida’s infamous “don’t say gay or trans” law used it — saying that kids are coming out as queer because it’s trendy or that being LGBTQ+ isn’t a permanent state. The law restricts lessons that deal with sexual orientation and gender identity.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who signed that bill into law, addressed the summit, as did his wife, Casey. The Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank, was one of the sponsors of the event.

The Advocate has sought comment from Publix about Fancelli’s donation but has not received a response. Last year, when her donation to the Trump rally was revealed, the company released a statement saying, “Mrs. Fancelli is not an employee of Publix Super Markets, and is neither involved in our business operations, nor does she represent the company in any way.”

It’s clear that the group she’s funding is harming children, however, the mother of a trans child wrote in a Democrat commentary published Friday. “The proposition by the Moms for Liberty that teachers are ‘groomers’ because they respect a student’s humanity is abhorrent,” Jennifer Koslow wrote. “The assertion that transgender students’ use of restrooms that align with their gender identity is a public safety issue is dishonest.”

The group is seeking to place a “conservative Christian” perspective “above all others in our pluralistic, secular public schools,” she continued. “The Moms for Liberty are welcome to hold their beliefs. But, they are not welcome to impose them on my children or others in the public schools.”

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