For nearly two years, bureaucrats have ignored the data on kids and Covid-19 to force children to wear masks. It’s clear that the decisions made for children during the pandemic were not rational and have hurt not only their development but also their mental health. Parents are rightfully furious.
Unmask the Kids America is a group dedicated to advocating for children whose interests were neglected during the pandemic. Not only is the parent-run organization pushing for schools to truly follow the science on masking, but the group is also empowering parents to stand up to the mask bullies who are hindering their children’s development.
“I think our kids have been used as political pawns,” Jen Harrison, a mother of three and founding member of Unmask the Kids, told The Federalist. “I have a 7-year-old, a 5-year-old, and a 2-year-old. My 5-year-old and 2-year-old don’t know anything different. They think this is normal. They have never been to a school without their faces covered.”
In Harrison’s home state of Illinois, where Unmask the Kids began, masks are still required in indoor public spaces for anyone over the age of 2, including in schools. The risk of young children getting extremely ill or dying from Covid is exceptionally low, and even the World Health Organization says young kids shouldn’t be forced to cover their faces. But that hasn’t stopped Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker from using his emergency powers to repeatedly extend tyrannical restrictions that cause harm on vulnerable populations, and children are suffering the most.
“I see the detriment of not being able to see faces. This age group develops through social interactions and they learn to read by watching somebody’s mouth. Their speech is delayed. Their ability to interact with people when they see them without a mask, when they see a classmate without the mask is really challenging to watch,” Harrison said. “I think the parents of the young kids can see such immediate ramifications to this. Enough is enough.”
Unmask the Kids started as a local movement in a North Shore Chicago suburb that gave parents a chance to voice their concerns with repressive Covid-19 regulations. Now the grassroots organization has caught the attention of thousands of parents from different states and political backgrounds who want to take back freedom of choice when it comes to masks.
The group uses an Instagram account, which has already amassed nearly 6,000 followers, to communicate the urgency behind unmasking kids. Moderators regularly post links to articles and resources detailing why there’s no science behind forcing children to wear face coverings. Moderators also post pictures of peaceful parent protests against masks, especially in schools, with hopes that it will inspire others who have been too nervous to speak up thus far.
“There’s just been a lot of fighting and big protests happening at all these schools with this dynamic happening,” Harrison explained. “My 7-year-old son was kicked out of school today for not wearing a mask. At another Catholic school, two fifth-graders were locked in a room and they had to text their parents from their school iPad to come get them because they were locked in a room for not wearing a mask. There are instances of high schools filling their auditoriums with students that are refusing to wear their masks and quarantining them in rooms. It’s really just imploded.”
Already, Unmask the Kids has faced opposition from Big Tech and others who don’t believe in parents’ rights to advocate for their children’s freedom. LinkTree, a tool used by organizations to collect resources and present them under one link, canceled the group’s account “due to inappropriate use of this service.” This tool’s removal was detrimental to group members such as Harrison, who is raising children, working, and trying to share resources with other concerned parents via the Unmask the Kids Instagram.
“We just basically run an Instagram account that spreads awareness, spreads medical journals, spreads mainstream, mostly, news articles just to raise awareness for unmasking the kids,” Harrison said. “…It’s literally just some parents trying to, you know, spread awareness on social media and empower the community.”
A judge in Illinois ruled on Friday that Pritzker’s statewide mask mandate for students is “null and void.” The governor and his administration scrambled to appeal the “misguided” ruling, but Harrison said the decision was “a big victory for a lot of people.”
“They sent their kids for the first day without a mask to school in two years [on Monday], but the next steps are just to keep it this way and to protect our children and to protect parents’ rights, to have choice,” Harrison said. “If somebody is comfortable wearing a mask, we support that. One thing that we said is we will fight for your ability to keep your mask on as much as we’ll fight for our ability to not wear our masks.”
The continued fight for parental rights is much bigger than Illinois. In Virginia, the state Supreme Court rejected a challenge to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s ban on mask mandates just a few days after an Arlington judge, whose spouse is a teacher in the Virginia education system, temporarily prevented enforcement of the order. While multiple Virginia school districts have ignored the governor’s orders and have repeatedly suspended maskless students, parents continue to fight for the right to unmask their children.
“The tide is shifting across the nation. Just look at New Jersey and Connecticut, who just lifted their school mandates. Not only are parents across the country tired of being ignored, but the students have started walking out of classrooms and wearing defiant masks on their own accord. At the street level, people are fighting to change the masking narrative — and politicians and courts are finally beginning to listen,” Virginia mom Stephanie Lundquist-Arora told The Federalist.
“For the past couple of years, we have repeatedly heard messages that if we don’t wear a mask, we’re unkind, stupid, or, now in Loudoun County, racist,” she continued. “Those words were powerful and effective at controlling our behavior. … What we’re seeing now is a societal self-reflection: Why are we doing this?”