Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano is hoping a groundswell of angry parents will sweep him over the finish line.
Mastriano has seized on the issue of the sexualization of public school children and centered a new digital ad “Hard to Watch” on it, using events in schools in Montgomery and Chester Counties to illustrate the problem. He said it is a disturbing trend that his Democratic opponent Josh Shapiro supports.
The Mastriano video includes a Delaware Valley Journal article about obscene books in school libraries. And it mentions a lawsuit filed in court by Malvern mother Fenicia Redman to get those books removed from the Great Valley High School library. Her son is a student at that school.
Asked to comment about the ad, Redman told Delaware Valley Journal, “Sen. Mastriano and Pennsylvania parents see the extremist government actors who’ve held our children hostage and robbed them of their innocence. We’re coming to free our children!”
The ad also mentions a Montgomery County kindergarten class where children were required to read books about transsexuals because one student identified as their non-biological gender. That incident came from an anonymous tip to the senator’s office.
Republican political consultant Charlie O’Neill said, “The issues Mastriano is talking about in this ad are definitely issues he can win. But this ad is way too long to have an impact. Across the nation, parental rights have had a major impact on elections. If Mastriano is able to harness that energy in places like the Philadelphia suburbs it could be the boost he needs. However, the election is rapidly approaching, so his campaign better hope it’s not too late.”
For example, the parental rights issue was a big reason Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Terry McAuliffe for governor of Virginia after the Democrat famously said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
The Shapiro campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
However, in a television interview Shapiro said that when Mastriano calls for restricting classroom content it contradicts his campaign pitch of freedom. “Walk as free people,” is one of Mastriano’s slogans.
“It’s not freedom when they tell our children what books they can read,” Shapiro said.
As Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Shapiro filed an amicus brief opposing Virginia’s moves to ban biological boys from using girls’ restrooms in schools.
Another parent who is a Mastriano supporter, Jamie Cohen Walker, said she supports him because he will keep the schools open. Children have been harmed by mandatory school closures, losing out on learning and becoming lonely and isolated.
“We knew that keeping kids out of school would harm them, so we fought, and we fought extremely hard because the Democratic politicians and their allies, the teachers union, made us their enemy,” Walker said.