A Worldwide Stop the War on Children Rally to protest the sexualization of children, secret gender transitions of minors and pornographic books at schools, and other issues in San Diego on Oct. 21, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)
SAN DIEGO—Thousands of people in dozens of U.S. and Canadian cities recently protested the sexualization of children, secret gender transitions of minors and pornographic books at schools, and other issues at dozens of events under the banner of the Worldwide Stop the War on Children Rally.
The rally was organized by the Mom Army and Gays Against Groomers with the backing of Our Duty and several other groups including parents, and teachers of all political stripes.
Other groups that backed the events included Million March 4 Children (Canada), Veterans for Child Rescue, Blexit, Leave Our Kids Alone (U.S. and Canada), and Moms for Liberty.
Seak Smith, founder of child advocacy groups the Mom Army and Dad Army, told The Epoch Times that tens of thousands had been expected to turn out for rallies in the United States, Canada, and Germany on Oct. 21.
Ms. Smith estimates that about 20,000 people likely attended rallies worldwide.
In Canada, Scott Newgent, who appeared in Matt Walsh’s film “What is a Woman?” drew large crowds at an event in Toronto, where protesters carried “Trudeau Must Go” banners, in reference to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
A Worldwide Stop the War on Children Rally in Toronto on Oct. 21, 2023. (Courtesy of Joe Anidjar)
Rallies were held in 32 U.S. cities and about 40 cities in Canada, but information about planned rallies in Germany remains unclear, Ms. Smith said.
Preceding the German rallies, police paid a visit to the home of Tanja Hope, the lead German organizer, and Ms. Smith hasn’t heard from her since.
“It’s very unsettling to me and my team,” she told The Epoch Times.
“Public education is mandatory in Germany. You’re not allowed to homeschool your kids” she said. “A lot of the information in Germany is not coming out into mainstream media. [There’s] a lot of censorship.”
Before the rally, Ms. Smith said that she expected attendance to reach 10,000 in Berlin alone.
“No one is sitting on the sidelines anymore in Germany,” she said. “They really don’t have any rights when it comes to their children.”
‘Boots on the Ground’
Coordinating the rallies internationally was a challenge but has united parents across different countries, “so, on that front, it’s definitely successful,” Ms. Smith said.
“When I started Mom Army, I didn’t want to be a keyboard warrior group. I really wanted us to be boots-on-the-ground effective at the state legislature and protests,” she said, although she has since realized that “people are really afraid to speak out” against gender ideology.
“I didn’t imagine that fighting for children, and the protection of children and their innocence would be such a challenge,” Ms. Smith said.
A Worldwide Stop the War on Children Rally to protest the sexualization of children, secret gender transitions of minors and pornographic books at schools, and other issues in Sacramento, Calif., on Oct. 21, 2023. (Courtesy of Julius Giles)
“That’s really the chilling effect that this has had,” she said. “We have a lot of people thanking us quietly and ... cheering us on from the sidelines, but they won’t show up because they don’t want to lose their job. They don’t want to be labeled.
“That’s why it’s even more important for the few that are willing to speak boldly and speak the truth for us to continue to do it.”
In California, rallies were held in San Diego, Temecula, Sacramento, and several other cities.
Jaimee Mitchell, founder of Gays Against Groomers, told The Epoch Times via text message that organizers were “completely blown away with the turnout” at the rallies across the United States and Canada.
“The child predators and mutilators have been put on notice that their days of harming children are coming to an end,” she said.
In San Diego, Suzanne Lockyer, who leads the local Moms for Liberty chapter, told about 50 supporters gathered on a street corner at Balboa Park that during the state-imposed COVID-19 lockdowns, her children asked for tablets to talk with their friends online—but before long she noticed that her daughter had learned a new vocabulary centered around gender ideology
“I let them have iPads,” she said. “I thought they were just playing Minecraft and talking with their friends.”
The sudden change in her daughter triggered Ms. Lockyer’s “mom instinct,” and she began to investigate how her daughter came to know about terms such as trans and pansexual.
“I knew something was wrong. I took away the devices,” she said. “I knew in my heart that this was not my child, but something had captured her mind.”
Suzanne Lockyer attends a Worldwide Stop the War on Children Rally in San Diego on Oct. 21, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)
In her quest to find the source of her daughter’s confusion, Ms. Lockyer said she went into “some very dark spaces on the internet,” including chat rooms that exposed minors to conversations full of age-inappropriate sexual content.
“Let me tell you, I found out firsthand ... how that can shape a 10-year-old child’s mind into thinking they’re something that they’re not,” she said. “We are now three years out and my child knows who she is. She knows her identity.”
Ms. Lockyer said it “breaks her heart” to see some parents “affirming” the chosen gender identities of their children.
“We all know what that path looks like,” she said. “People think it’s safe, and people think it’s kind, but it’s a straight line to puberty blockers.”
When Ms. Lockyer initially searched for help online, she said that the only groups opposing transgenderism were those branded by transgender activists as trans-exclusionary radical feminist groups, or TERFs.
“Conservative Christians started waking up because it started to happen to their kids,” she said. “So, what you see right now is us joining forces and crossing partisan lines. We are saying ‘No!’ We do not want our women and girls in spaces with men. We do not want gender ideology in the school.”
Fired Teacher Fights Back
In Temecula, Jessica Tapia, a tenured teacher who was fired from her job
at Jurupa Valley High School for sharing her Christian and conservative views on social media and refusing to lie to parents about students’ gender identities, told her story to a crowd of about 100.
“I didn’t really believe there was a war on children until it was at my door,” she said. “So I just want everyone here today to know it’s best you step into the battle now before it’s at your door.”
Ms. Tapia, who was in her sixth year of teaching, said a group of students targeted her for sharing her Christian beliefs on social media, and the school district placed her on paid leave, investigated her, and ultimately fired her.
Jessica Tapia, a tenured teacher who was fired from her job at Jurupa Valley High School for sharing her Christian and conservative views on social media and refusing to lie to parents about students’ gender identities, attends a rally in Temecula, Calif., on Oct. 21, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)
“I just openly share what I think about a lot of things going on in the world today, and 14- to 15-year-old kids found my beliefs—I would assume they were maybe from the LGBTQ community—and they did not like what they found,” she told The Epoch Times in an interview after her speech. “They actually specifically went to a [group of posts] on my page called Jesus. They screenshotted Bible verses and sent those in to my school district.”
Ms. Tapia has since sued the Jurupa Unified School District to be reinstated to her teaching job and is seeking damages.
“The lawsuit is filed, the district is aware, and so we’re just waiting to see what comes next, whether we are going to go to court ... or whether the district is going to offer a settlement,” she said.
Ms. Tapia said that she hopes her case will send a strong message to every school district in the state that “you can’t scream inclusion while excluding parents.”
Although “too few teachers” are speaking up, many have reached out to share their stories with her and ask for advice, a sign that a “shaking-up” of California’s education system might be imminent, she said.
“I know there are thousands of other teachers just like me that have my same beliefs who are seeing my story, and they’re thinking, ‘I’m next,’ ... if this is really what can happen to a Christian teacher,” Ms. Tapia said.
Many teachers weren’t aware that the California Department of Education had issued guidance encouraging teachers and counselors to keep social gender transitions of students secret from their parents but are now slowly pushing back, she said.
“Teachers—not just parents—are definitely waking up right now and really have to decide what hill they die on,” Ms. Tapia said. “The 14th Amendment says parents have the right to direct the upbringing of their child, and so this is absolutely unconstitutional to require teachers to withhold anything from a parent about their own child. That is absolutely wrong. First and foremost, we need to inform parents.”
As experienced teachers leave the field, she said, activist teachers coming up the ranks are creating a louder echo chamber in favor of secret gender transitions
, “so you can imagine what the education system would eventually look like.”
Ms. Tapia encouraged teachers who disagree with gender theory and political activism in the classroom to not retire early or resign.
“I would never advise quitting, because that’s giving up,” she said. “It’s definitely not stepping into the war, and we’re here today because we very much believe there is a war on children.”
Ryan attends a rally in San Diego on Oct. 21, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)
Parental Rights and Local Autonomy
Stefanie Dawson, a Mom Army leader in Temecula, told The Epoch Times that California Attorney General Rob Bonta is “trampling on parents and parental rights” and attempting to quash local autonomy of school boards in his lawsuit against Chino Valley Unified School District to halt the enforcement of its parental notification policy regarding gender transitions.
“He is basically going against what our Founding Fathers set up—going against parents who voted for the individuals to represent us and to bring policies forward that represent the community,” she said.
The state is violating the U.S. Constitution and “undermining parents at every level” of government, despite provisions that allow for local control of school boards, Ms. Dawson said.
She believes that sex education should happen at home under the supervision and guidance of parents—not in a classroom—and said that the rallies aren’t a war against the LGBT community but an effort to protect the innocence of children.
“I’ve come across many people who for a long time thought that this was just happening somewhere else in a faraway state or city or the one-off [place] they heard about in the news,” Ms. Dawson said.
But now those same people are paying attention to bills moving through the state legislature, she said.
The rally was intended not only to bring awareness, but also to inform people about what they can do “to combat the war on children,” including running for public office, Ms. Dawson said.
“More people are getting involved,” she said.
Samuel Carasillas of Gays Against Groomers attends a rally in San Diego on Oct. 21, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)
In San Diego, Samuel Carasillas of Gays Against Groomers told supporters that his group is working with parental rights groups to oppose gender theory being taught to children and medical interventions for minors, such as puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones that cause sterilization.
“Our core mission is to end the sexualization, the indoctrination, the chemical and physical castration of children,” he said.
Marci Strange, founder of Taxpayer Oversight for Parents and Students, or TOPS, and a member of Our Duty, said that TOPS calls for a return to higher academic standards and the expulsion of politics from the classroom.
“We also demand that teachers are inclusive of parents. We want to know if our kids are changing genders,” she said.
Ben Richards, representing the Dad Army, urged more parents to get on social media, join parental rights groups, and recruit more parents into the movement.
“As a veteran, it brings tears to my eyes after all the deployments I’ve done to see this country near collapsing in a span of a couple of years,” he said. “We need more help, we need more bodies, because guess what, we’re up against a system that is funded with hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Slim Killens, who attended the Temecula rally and can often be seen carrying sandwich board signs that say, “Traditional Marriage—one man, one woman,” told The Epoch Times that he often talks to transgender people on the street. “I refuse to play the game,” he said. “I’m going to tell the truth. I’m going to love them and tell them I’m not going to lie to them.” (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)
Audra Morgan, a local activist who speaks out at city hall and San Diego County of Supervisors meetings, urged more Americans “to stand up for all the things that this nation has been founded upon—which is not slavery and not having your children taken away because you want to protect them.”
“We don’t need to be afraid of the people that are doing this. We need them to be afraid of us and say you’re not going to do this anymore to our children,” she said. “Everything is upside down and inside out, and as long as we don’t say anything, then that’s what kind of truth exists. ... We’re letting their reality be so. We need to shape our own future—our own reality—and we have the power to do it.”
In Sacramento, Mom Army and Freedom Angels founders Tara Thornton and Denise Aguilar led a protest of about 100 people outside California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Fair Oaks home while the governor was traveling to China following a brief stop in Israel.