Rally “for the children” draws conflicting views of advocacy

Correction: An earlier version of this story mentioned that Sean Moon attended this event, but he did not.

| 23 Aug 2022 | 02:24

Milford– A rally billed as “We The People Rally for the Children” gathered about 100 people in front of Pike County Courthouse on Sunday. The rally was organized by P.A.C.E.--Pennsylvania Advocacy for Children’s Education--a parental rights organization. (www.paceunited.org).

Also attending this rally were people from the Sanctuary Church aka Rod of Iron, some pro-LGBTQ+ people, two councilmen from Milford Boro and Mayor Sean Strub. Joe Adams, Republican candidate for PA 139 in the State House was there as was John Hellman, campaign manager for Meg Rosenfeld, the Democratic candidate running for the same office. Each of these groups had different agendas and different reasons for being there.

When asked why they attended, rally-goers answers varied across the political spectrum.

Denton Smith and his wife Dorit came from Matamoras. She held a sign saying, “Children belong to God and Parents Not Government.”

“The School system is going down rapidly and we’re here to make a public statement to help stop that trend,” Denton said.

Rod Cameron was event videographer, both for the Sanctuary church and for his own post on Rumble – the conservative version of YouTube. His wife Roseann said, “I’m here because I believe in what they are doing--I’m concerned about my grandchildren.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Amanda Pauley said, “We’re here to show our LGBTQ+ community that they have more support than what this tiny little group is doing. PACE is this bizarro group that’s trying to defund our public schools and use taxpayers dollars to set up their own private schools not controlled by the government.”

Along the same vein, Bruce Pollack said, “We’re here to promote love and they’re here to promote hate and narrowmindedness. John Hellman said he was “horrified at all of the anti - LGBTQ+ and transphobic messages and they made it clear that when they say ‘protect our children,’ they are not talking about any child that is trans or gender non-confirming.

On the political side, Boro Councilman Joe Dooley said, “I go to every rally to assure that the health, safety, and welfare of our residents and visitors are protected and that they follow the rules we set for rallies, including one side of the street and no one in the street.”

Councilman Doug Manion, when asked why he was there, cryptically said, “I like to keep my friends close and my enemies closer.”

“‘I went because I was concerned about Mastriano’s proposal and was hoping to hear Joe Adams and others express their opposition,” said Mayor Sean Strub. “Their plan is predicated on reducing the cost of educating per student per year from $19,000 to $9,000 or $10,000, which would put PA almost at the very bottom in per student school expenditures. Mastriano’s plan would devastate Pennsylvania-public schools (https://www.penncapital-star.com/campaigns-elections/mastrianos-education-funding-plan-would-devastate-pennsylvania-public-schools-advocates-say/) What the Republicans in PA are proposing to do to public education is truly radical and risks gutting our public education system.”

Joe Adams, who has a background of 15 years on the financial side of education, said, “I’m here to tell you that the government has too much power and my job as a legislator is to take some of that power and distribute it to elected officials and especially to local ones. “

John Hellman said, “I’m happy to announce that Meg Rosenfeld was just endorsed by the PA State Education Association for being the best candidate to protect and improve our state’s education program.”

P.A.C.E. bill of rights for parents

The P.A.C.E. program began with a prayer by Pastor Shawn Coleman of the Living Christ Chapel, also called Long Meadow Chapel, on 2001. Then Anastasia Theodoropoulos, representing the “We the People” group, said, “People worry that their children are not safe in school and the innocence of children’s view is being attacked by being detrimentally sexualized by a woke ideology. We the people will not sit idle to the takeover of our children. We support a parental Bill of Rights.” She then proceeded to read all the statements on this Bill of Rights which was posted at a table. [See Photo]

Kerry Williams was introduced as an activist, former educator, and a researcher on the high jacking of public schools.

“There is no difference between sex and gender- they are the same thing,” she said. “Children who suffer from gender dysphoria deserve our compassion. However, what children do not deserve is the normalization of this mental condition. Biden wants to give children the right to choose and change their sex without parental permission and charge the parents with discrimination if they object.”

She said that at the last meeting of the Delaware Valley school board, someone had said that children can choose to use any bathroom on any day, depending on which gender they identify with. She urged people to get involved, attend school board meetings, run for the board. Demand that this bathroom policy be revoked.

“Our children and grandchildren are depending on us,” she said.

The bathroom policy complies with a 2021 Supreme Court ruling that students should not be forced to use bathrooms that don’t conform with their gender identity.

Matthew Contreras started his talk with a message to the other side. He said, “People who might disagree with us—I want you to be here. I want you to hear what we have to say .The only way we can come together and have a discussion is to actually speak with one another. And yet, he refused to speak to the press—walked away and said, “No Comment.”

Contreras, who is part of PACE, riled the audience with a call and response chant.

“Why are we here?” he called out.

“We’re here for the children,” the crowd responded. This went on for several minutes.

He continued, “We want parents to have the right to educate their children in conjunction with their teachers and we want parents to have authority over their children. Moral authority resides with the parents and caregivers of the children—not the government school system.”

He said he was concerned about the “dumbing down of our children.”

“Instead of focusing on academics, we focus on political philosophy. This is about coming together, not under a multicolored flag, but under that flag,” Contreras said, pointing to the American flag that a young woman in the audience was holding and getting applause. He finished his talk with, “Why are we here? “

The group answered, “For the children.”