The conservative parental rights movement that emerged during the pandemic is having its moment this weekend, as the group Moms for Liberty began its “Joyful Warriors” national summit at the Tampa Marriott Waterside on Friday.

Around 500 people are expected to attend the event, which features a number of conservative leaders, starting off Friday with Gov. Ron DeSantis, who gave a fiery 50-minute speech to kick off the event.

What You Need To Know

  • Moms for Liberty is a conservative parental rights organization that claims to have more than 100,000 members nationwide after forming in early 2021
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis was the keynote speaker on Friday at the Moms for Liberty event
  • The Florida Democratic Party is hosting its “Leadership Blue” conference this weekend in Tampa, with all the major players in the party attending the event

“We have drawn a very clear line in the sand that says, ‘Our school system is for educating kids, not indoctrinating kids,’” DeSantis said in laying out his reasoning behind legislation that banned critical race theory from being taught in public schools.

DeSantis claimed that the decisions he made relatively early on during the pandemic — including those he said were blasted by the media — have been proven correct two years later.

He seemed to take particular delight in bashing the Disney Corporation.  The governor’s feud with the entertainment giant over the Parental Rights in Education law — known to critics as “don’t say gay” — culminated in him revoking a special tax status that company had enjoyed for 55 years.

“They do not run the state of Florida — we run the state of Florida," he said.

DeSantis said that “a lot of people” believed that once Disney did come out in opposition to the Parental Rights in Education bill that bans teaching lessons that include sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade — and any grade if the material is determined not to be "age appropriate" — that would kill the bill because of the company's long-held power in the state.

Moms for Liberty was created by three female school board members in Florida in January of 2021 – Tina Descovich, Tiffany Justice and Bridget Ziegler, who is running for reelection for the Sarasota County School Board next month).

Event organizers say the organization now has chapters in 38 states, and more than 100,000 members nationwide.

Shortly after DeSantis' speech, members from the Florida Democratic Party held a news conference at a hotel conference room across the street, where they blasted his education record.

“This is an administration that claims to put parents first, while continuously putting children and education last,” said Jennifer Jenkins, a school board member in Brevard County.

“Right now, our governor is bragging about what he portrays as his achievements in education," she said. "Meanwhile, there are over 9,000 instructional vacancies across the state of Florida, with less than 30 days until the start of school.”

She went on to say that while DeSantis was boasting about historic funding in public education in Florida, “that historic funding still ranks Florida, the fourth largest economy in the United States, as just 43rd in the country for education funding.”

Meanwhile, the Florida Democratic Party’s Leadership Blue statewide event began on Friday afternoon at the J.W. Marriott Tampa Water Street hotel in Tampa.

The keynote speaker on Saturday night will be Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. He’s been getting some buzz as a potential presidential candidate, as a recent poll indicated that a majority of Democrats don’t want Joe Biden to run for reelection in 2024.