ROCKVILLE, Md.—Here at the crossroads of Mannakee Street and College Drive in the suburbs of the nation’s capital, woke intersectionalism came to die.
Outside the headquarters of Montgomery County Public Schools, a cleric at a local Ethiopian Orthodox church stood in a white turban, gold-colored robe, and church insignia. Like Seyouman Getahun was in an interfaith crowd of about 1,000 parents, students, and community members. The crowd of largely “brown and black” people, as equity warriors so often colorize minorities, rallied for the right of parents to opt children out of age-inappropriate sex education in local public schools.
Co-organized by a new group called Coalition of Virtue, these parents are the “intersectional” answer to the Woke Army. The Woke Army are the leftist activists who exploit “black, indigenous, people of color” (BIPOC) to put children in the crosshairs of the “rainbow mafia” in K-12 schools. These parents who defy their stereotypes are the Woke Army’s worst nightmare.
Hundreds of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians from an estimated 40 local churches, including Getahun’s, rallied beside Muslim immigrant families from a dozen mosques and other area community members. Their ranks included a Filipino-Puerto Rican-American Christian dad and a Peruvian-American Catholic mother.
All were here to protest the refusal of the local school board, all affiliated at some point with Democratic Party politics, to allow parents to opt their kids out of sex ed that includes an introduction to homosexual behavior and gender identities that contradict one’s natural sex.
“This hill is where the democrats have chosen [to] die. Bizarre. Totally bizarre,” said a Twitter user.
From Rockville to Glendale, Calif., where Armenian American parents oppose school board indoctrination, a new “intersectional” rejection of wokeism includes voters up for grabs by Republican politicians and efforts like No Labels, which may advocate for a third-party presidential candidate in 2024.
“Vote them out!” the Rockville crowd chanted, packed shoulder to shoulder.
The protestors’ demands were simple enough: “Protect families’ rights!” “What do we want? Opt out! When do we want it? Now!” “We want freedom! We want rights!”
Across the parking lot, about a dozen all-white leftist activists stood, chatting with each other. They looked awkward and out of place, with rainbow umbrellas over their heads but no rain yet and soap bubbles from a party machine streaming by.
Later, inside for public comments at a school board meeting, local activist Laura Stewart complained about a video I had posted from a protest of Muslim parents early last month. She objected that it “was retweeted by Elon Musk,” the owner of Twitter.
In video testimony, Stewart omitted a critical detail from her resume: she has been an officer and leader in the Montgomery County Women’s Democratic Club. She has also been vice president of advocacy for the Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations and just received the “National PTA Lifetime Achievement Award” from the local council.
The rallying parents are mostly new American citizens. Their lifetime achievement is immigration, acculturation, employment, and parenthood in a new nation where they enjoyed no legacy, no property, no bank account, and no “privilege,” except the inherited grit to navigate a new society with a new language and culture.
If you can believe it, the night before this rally filled with immigrants, the Montgomery County Women’s Democratic Club issued a statement with a newly formed group, “Coalition for Inclusive Schools” that Stewart now leads. It condemned “outside influences” seeking to opt-out children from age-inappropriate sex ed.
This multicultural crowd was anything but “outside influences.” It was filled with recent immigrants who live locally. These parents made an argument that parent groups are increasingly expressing around the country and in Canada, asserting religious freedom rights.
“Our beliefs! Our choice! Religious freedom, raise your voice,” they chanted.
Peruvian-American mother Norma Margulies carried a handmade sign that read: “Respetemos el derecho de las familias a compartir su cultura y religión con sus hijos e hijas!” “Respect the rights of families to share their culture and religion with their children, sons and daughters,” she translated, adding, “It’s a basic right.”
Margulies joined the protest from her home in nearby Fairfax County, Va., with a friend, Tony Sabio. He’s the son of parents from the Philippines and Puerto Rico and a military veteran who rescued a boy from Ukraine.
Sabio said he is running for school board in Fairfax County because of the disenfranchisement of parents. “I’m here for these parents,” Sabio said over the crowd’s chants as he carried the American flag over his shoulders.
In recent years, woke activists have exploited “intersectionality.” That’s a concept critical race theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw invented in 1989 to look at injustices through the prism of an “intersectionality” of various allegedly oppressed social identities. While the idea had some merits, far-left activists and politicians have weaponized it.
In recent days, Maryland and Virginia parents have held sign-making events and parent educational seminars at local places of worship including mosques like the Islamic Center of Maryland and affiliates of the Medhanialem Orthodox Church. Holding signs that read “Respect Our Values” and “Parents Know Best,” they voiced concerns about the sex curriculum being taught to their children.
Across the street from the school system’s offices, a strip of locally owned storefronts showcased the diversity in this suburb community. On Hungerford Drive, an Ethiopian restaurant sits beside Island Pride Jamaican Restaurant, Yunnan Rice Noodle, Aria Halal Supermarket, and 5-10 Quick Mart.
In the crowd, Getahun, the Ethiopian Orthodox cleric, told me he was there to support parental rights as enshrined in the 14th Amendment and the U.S. Constitution. He flipped through copies of the books “The Gay BCs” and “Gender Queer” tucked in my “Mary Poppins” bag of inappropriate books in public schools and furrowed his brow at the images.
“T is for TRANS,” he read, not the usual “trains” in most books teaching the ABCs. “It’s a brave step to take,” he continued, “to take to live as the gender you know is innate.”
The book is meant for toddlers, as young as three.
While the rally primarily focused on the right to opt out of sex curriculum, the attendees also saw the school board’s refusal to address their concerns as an infringement on their religious freedom.
Nearby a rally organizer, Ismail Royer, a director of Islam and religious freedom at the Religious Freedom Institute based in Washington, D.C., said: “This is the intersection, this is the alliance that really matters. This is the moral consensus that is at the heart of the American moral tradition and virtue tradition.”
By about 5 p.m., the rally ended, with Getahun among the last leaving the rally off Mannakee Street and College Drive, as members of this new intersectional alliance chanted, “We will prevail!”