TRENTON – Litigation is not going to intimidate those being sued for defamation by a high school librarian in Roxbury.
“Do not let this scare you, it does not scare us.”
So said Christina Balestriere to the crowd at a Parental Rights rally Monday morning outside the Statehouse.
Balestriere and fellow defendant Kristin Cobo both spoke at a rally called to condemn a variety of so-called ills plaguing the public school system. The crowd was not enormous – about 150 people at most – but it was spirited with many waving signs and wearing T-shirts proclaiming parental rights.
The rally veered off in different directions — one speaker exhorted the power of Jesus while others said the overriding message had nothing to do with political partisanship or faith.
Stll, the general theme seemed to be that children in today’s public schools need to be rescued from sexual manipulation.
Greg Quinlan, president of the Center for Garden State families, said the state’s new educational standards tell all.
“The sexual exploitation of your child is right here in black and white,” he said, the standards in hand.
Public school curriculum is a hot topic across the country with Republicans and conservative groups mostly on the offensive.
But there has been some pushback. One man in the crowd handed reporters a press release calling for the Legislature to adopt a bill to prohibit public and school libraries from banning books. It was from a group called Education Truth Project.
As for the Roxbury suit, it was filed recently by a librarian who claims four parents annoyed at library books have defamed her by labeling her a “child predator.”
Cobo told the crowd that she and others in town were troubled with 11 books in the library and that when the administration declined to remove them, she took her case to a school board meeting.
The suit soon followed and will, presumably, wind its way through the court system.
Cobo said some may be unaware how a child’s normal development is being threatened. She said some of the questionable books are so vile, they make “adults cringe.” A book attracting the most attention is Gender Queer: a Memoir, which traces the author’s journey from adolescence to adulthood.
Books were not the only concern of the group.
Other speakers condemned mandatory vaccines, access to abortion and the “censoring and marginalization of parents who respectfully protest.”
State Sen. Ed Durr, who became a right wing celebrity after beating then-Senate President Steve Sweeney two years ago, was in the crowd, but so was Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer, who is challenging him in the June Republican primary.
As was to be expected at such a gathering, the names of Phil Murphy and Joe Biden were mentioned – and booed.
The mood of the day was captured by the first speaker who proclaimed:
“We must save our children.”