The Epoch Times: Education Reform Documentary ‘Canceled’ by Woke Activists in Illinois

The following article is from The Epoch Times. USPIE has pasted the article below for those who were having difficulty reading it.

Two attempts to publicly show the documentary film “Truth and Lies in American Education” were thwarted this month by threats of violence from self-avowed Antifa activists.

The one-hour movie advocates for parents’ rights, the abandonment of what it sees as the sexualization and political indoctrination of school children, and a return to classical education in public schools.

The film also urges that the lowering of academic standards be reversed and presents homeschooling and private schools as alternatives to public education.

It was produced by a national, non-profit, organization of volunteers called United States Parents Involved in Education (USPIE). The $150,000 cost of production and introductory marketing was paid for through mostly small donations.

Along with select public showings, the film may be viewed online for a small fee.

Two Venues Back Out

The day before the scheduled free public showing, the management of a community theater in suburban Chicago backed out of a commitment to allow the Illinois chapter of USPIE to use the public building to show the documentary and conduct a panel discussion of its content afterward.

The event’s organizers quickly found another venue, a southside Chicago tavern, that was initially willing to accommodate them. At the last minute, its management backed out too, citing anonymous threats to “shoot up the bar” and concern for the safety of patrons and staff as the reason.

USPIE national founder and president, Sheri Few, told The Epoch Times, “So-called anti-fascists claimed credit for both cancellations on social media. They had threatened that if the film was shown ‘bullets would fly.’”

Few said that in the first instance, Antifa activists pressured the city council to stop the showing, posted threats on the internet, and bullied the facility’s manager. Before the second cancellation, they intimidated the bar owner into a change of mind.

Theater Gets Bullets in Mail

Mailing bullets to a venue manager’s home, smearing the place with dog feces, and aggressive social media doxxing are common tactics of the woke mob to send a message, Few said.

“Woke people are afraid if the general public learns what is going on in their schools they will stand up against the evil.”

Antifa frequently proclaims on social media that its mission is to shut down the “racists, transphobes, and the anti-LGBT terrorists” by any means necessary.

“It’s ironic that they call us terrorists for just trying to educate people. They are the ones that threaten violence,” said Few.

“The woke accuse us of censorship and violating free speech when we push to remove obviously pornographic materials from our children’s classrooms. Yet, they are the ones shutting down an opportunity to educate others by canceling our documentary.”

Few said she expected the woke activists to fight back and that, despite their threats, USPIE will stand firm for what’s right.

She pointed to Terry Newsome, founder, and president of the Illinois chapter of USPIE, as an example of a “strong and courageous leader.”

‘A Real Fighter’

Newsome, 61, a father of three who opposed mask mandates in schools and publicized the existence of pornography in the library of his local school, has been relentlessly attacked and doxxed on social media for his actions.

His promotion of the documentary is one of the latest reasons he is being doxxed.

“Like most parents, I was working hard to make a living and wasn’t paying much attention to what was going on at school beyond the sports program,” he said.

He told The Epoch Times that he was first alerted to what was happening in the schools when one of his children came home disturbed about anti-American ideas being taught in English class.

“I called the principal and was told the ideas weren’t being taught. They were just being ‘discussed.’ The Left uses semantics to conceal what they are doing and control the language and the narrative,” said Newsome.

‘Just Comic Sketches’

He told The Epoch Times that when a group of parents appealed the stocking of pornographic books in the school library, school authorities told him they could not immediately define pornography and deferred answering his questions about it.

“When presented with the actual materials containing examples of what Webster’s Dictionary defines as pornography, school officials insisted the explicit drawings displaying sex acts were ‘just comic sketches.’

“They said it was ‘not the author’s intent’ to stimulate or to sexually arouse the student and therefore could not be construed as pornographic.”

Dissatisfied with the administration’s response, Newsome ran copies of the material and walked the neighborhoods distributing them to residents.

He also made poster-size enlargements and took them to a school board meeting.

“People in the neighborhoods told me they were sickened and disgusted by the material and could not believe such things were being presented to school children.

“Some whipped out their cell phones and made calls to other parents, friends, and even school kids in their families to fact-check me.

“Once people see this stuff for themselves, the vast majority say it’s wrong for the schools to be using such materials,” Newsome said.

‘Gender Queer Is Not Pornography’

In an email to Newsome and school board members, District 99 Superintendent Hank Thiele commented on the appeal of the school library stocking “Gender Queer,” a children’s book many parental rights organizations around the country have deemed obscene and inappropriate for school use.

Thiele stated it was up to the school board’s attorney and not school librarians to determine the legal definition of pornography.

“Based on my conversations with the board’s attorneys, I do not believe the book qualifies as pornography. If it had, I would have removed it from the library immediately.”

“Gender Queer” was subsequently reviewed by a seven-member panel appointed by the superintendent comprised of parents and educators from the district.

Thiele told The Epoch Times in a Feb. 24 email that “the challenge was resolved by Board of Education action in June of 2022 and the resource remains in our library.”

“Parents have for too long put their blind trust in the public schools, believing they were acting in good faith to always protect the best interest of the children,” Few told The Epoch Times.

Newsome said that his part of Illinois, an area west of Chicago, is heavily Democrat and woke.

“Too many Democrats really believe this stuff is fine. They are too far gone, completely unpersuadable. If they are all there is, we would have no hope.

“We are in a war for the future of America, and we are losing. Most parents don’t know it yet. Some that do know are too afraid to fight—afraid to lose business, afraid to lose their job, afraid to lose friends, afraid of retribution on their children,” he said.

Signs of Awakening

As more suburban Chicago, parents, grandparents, and concerned citizens became aware of the situation in their schools, they began flooding school board meetings to voice their opposition.

Their presence provoked increasing hostility from board members and school administrators, according to Newsome.

“They strictly enforced ridiculously short time limits on parents trying to speak. They started kicking people out and abruptly going into closed session. No more poster-sized visual aids were allowed.

“And they moved the location for their meetings from our big new auditorium to an administration building that could seat about 10 visitors. That’s what we’re up against.”

Newsome said one of his main adversaries at the school board meetings is another parent who openly claims affiliation with Antifa and Black Lives Matter on social media.

Doxxing Begins

 “I think this person put them on to me. Soon the aggressive doxxing and full-blown, brutal attacks on social media started,” he said. “They call me a Nazi, bigot, racist, LGBT-hater. They say I hate women.

“Let me tell you, I don’t hate women. Six moms were the first people involved in our reform movement. Later, when the big crowds started overflowing the school board meetings nine out of 10 were women.”

Newsome told The Epoch Times that he does not hate LGBT people and cares for the safety and well-being of all children.

“Despite what Antifa and their allies in the media mob say about me, I’m not for the wholesale banning of books. There are some gay books in the school library that may legitimately help young people sort out who they are at a difficult time in their lives. I am not against those books.”

Newsome said the real fascists are the radical leftists who use lies and slander “to destroy my credibility in proclaiming the truth.”

Hate and Terrorist Watch Lists

Few told The Epoch Times that Newsome’s activism caught the attention of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which placed him on its “Hate Watch List.”

“Violent Marxists use that list to choose their targets,” she said.

Newsome was recently abruptly pulled aside at O’Hare airport and detained. He was subjected to a comprehensive search that caused him to miss his scheduled flight, according to Few.

A coalition of leftist groups, including many woke community members, Democrat activists, educators, and some paid professional protesters, have labeled parental rights meetings as “hate gatherings.”

They harassed many meetings and shut down several events in the last six months, according to Newsome.

Antifa Is the Vanguard

“When they show up at an event, their typical formation is 10 to 12 Antifa right up front, with a 100 or so woke banner wavers behind them. They don’t succeed in canceling every event, but every meeting they do shut down encourages them to keep at it,” he said.

Newsome told The Epoch Times that, in his opinion, the content of the documentary was not the main impetus for the Left to go all out to cancel the showings.

Rather, he believes it was the impressive credentials and diversity of the experts on the panel prepared to discuss it afterward that was their main motivation.

“The broad demographic representation of those united in opposition to pornography in public schools poses a big threat to the woke agenda.

“Because all of our panelists were highly qualified and very diverse, I think the woke left-wing leaders were really worried. They believe they own the idea of diversity. It troubled them to see that it was not just going to be old white men on the panel,” he said.

One of the panelists was Jaimee Mitchell, founder of the Gays Against Groomers organization.

Though Newsome believes the picture in Illinois is bleak and that parents are losing the war, he is determined to continue to fight.

“I’m fighting for my children and for the rights of parents to be respected, especially in having a voice in what their kids are being taught.

“If you won’t stand up and fight for your kids, what will you fight for?” he said.

Few said she is optimistic about the future and is heartened that more parents are waking up to the damage that is being done to their children.

“I have never seen so many parents getting actively engaged at their local school boards despite the risk of being labeled a ‘domestic terrorist’ by their own government.”

USPIE has established a network of grassroots leaders from around the country who are working to 1) expose the lies being taught in government schools that harm children and threaten freedom, 2) encourage parents to take back responsibility to educate their children, 3) initiate and support efforts to return complete local control of government schools, and 4) encourage states to wean themselves off the federal education dole. It is the vision of USPIE to create a culture where parents, empowered with the authority to choose what and how their children learn, are the undisputed, primary educators of their children, where local schools operate in support of families, and where education is unencumbered by federal mandates. Please consider a tax-deductible donation today and even consider a recurring donation to support this vital work.​​​​​​​ Thank you in advance for your generous support!​​​​​​​

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