Michigan Sen. McMorrow: Republicans ‘creating issue that doesn’t exist’ with education laws

Democratic lawmaker rebuts unfounded ‘grooming’ accusation made by colleague in viral speech

This image taken from video provided by the Michigan Senate shows Sen. Mallory McMorrow speaking on Tuesday, April 19, 2022. The Michigan lawmaker, mother and LGBTQ rights backer who was falsely accused of wanting to "groom' kids" by a Republican colleague drew widespread praise for defending herself in a 5-minute speech from the Senate floor. McMorrow, who has not gotten an apology, said she will not stop forcefully addressing such attacks. (Michigan Senate via AP) (Uncredited)

A Democratic Michigan state senator whose passionate Senate Floor speech went viral last week is saying that her Republican colleagues are creating problems that don’t exist in an effort to rile up their supporters and avoid addressing “real issues.”

A speech made by Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow went viral last week in which she refuted an unfounded claim made by a Republican colleague that accused her of wanting to “groom and sexualize kindergartners.” The accusation, posed by Michigan Sen. Lana Theis in a campaign email, is part of a broader effort by GOP lawmakers nationwide to restrict how public schools address sexual orientation and gender identity.

Such efforts include polarizing rhetoric -- including the term “grooming,” which inappropriately equates teaching materials and educators with pornography and even pedophilia, according to many who oppose the GOP’s agenda.

In a fundraising email, Sen. Theis called out Sen. McMorrow directly, making unsubstantiated accusations against the Democratic lawmaker while pushing against the progressive party.

“These are the people we are up against,” Theis wrote in the email. “Progressive social media trolls like Senator Mallory McMorrow (D-Snowflake) who are outraged they can’t teach can’t groom and sexualize kindergartners or that 8-year-olds are responsible for slavery.”

In response, Sen. McMorrow took to the Senate Floor last week to denounce Theis’ accusation and the rhetoric being pushed by her Republican colleagues.

“Senator Lana Theis accused me by name of grooming and sexualizing children in an attempt to marginalize me for standing up against her marginalizing the LGBTQ community,” McMorrow tweeted on April 19 alongside her now-viral remarks, which have garnered more than 14 million views.

“I sat on it for a while wondering why me? Then I realized ... I’m the biggest threat to your hollow, hateful scheme,” McMorrow said, addressing Theis. “Because you can’t claim that you’re targeting marginalized kids in the name of ‘parental rights’ if another parent is standing up and saying no.”

McMorrow, who represents cities like Royal Oak and Troy in the 13th district, went on to defend her stance against the educational restrictions, saying she wants her daughter to be supported and respected for “whoever she becomes,” and argues that people who are “different are not the reason our roads are in bad shape, or healthcare costs are too high, or teachers are leaving the profession.”

You can watch the speech in the tweet below.

“I am a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom who knows that the very notion that learning about slavery or redlining or systemic racism means that children are being taught to feel bad or hate themselves because they are white is absolute nonsense,” McMorrow said. “No child alive today is responsible for slavery. No one is this room is responsible for slavery. But each and every single one of us bears responsibility for writing the next chapter of history. We decide what happens next, and how we respond to history and the world around us.

“We are not responsible for the past. We also cannot change the past. We can’t pretend that it didn’t happen, or deny people their very right to exist.”

McMorrow joined Local 4′s Devin Scillian Sunday on Flashpoint to discuss her viral speech, and why she felt it was necessary. The Democrat says she believes that by pushing “hateful” rhetoric about sexual orientation and gender identity on their quest to restrict teachers, Republican lawmakers are “creating an issue that doesn’t exist.”

“There aren’t sex acts being taught to children,” McMorrow said. “A lot of this language is saying that you can’t even just acknowledge that people exist in the world ... The reality is, it’s just a non issue, and it’s a hateful distraction from actual real issues that impact people.

“... Part of what I wanted to express in my speech is that we have to acknowledge hate and lies and blunt them, and then move on,” McMorrow added. “Because that is just a distraction from the roads, schools, water quality, cost of health care, inflation -- all of these things.

“I am happy to work with any of my Republican colleagues on real solutions, but the fact is, they don’t have any. And they’re just trying to rile you up and get you so angry. So, that’s what I think Democrats have to do, is point out that it’s nonsense -- so, acknowledge, very forcefully, that hate is not OK, and it’s distracting from issues.”

The lawmaker argues that teachers are on the same side as the parents, and want to work together to make sure students’ needs are being met.

“Teachers also want a healthy relationship with parents,” McMorrow said. “Be involved in your child’s education so that teachers know what’s going on at home, and so parents know what’s going on in the classroom. That has never been an issue.”

McMorrow says she identifies as Catholic and has always been active in her church and in her community. She told Local 4 that she believes some conservative lawmakers are using their Christian faith to actually cultivate a culture of hate.

“To see Christianity weaponized as a means to justify targeting marginalized people, as a means to express hate, is completely unacceptable and it’s disgusting,” McMorrow said. “I think there’s a lot more people like me who need to take our own identity back and say, ‘This is not what is acceptable for people who believe in faith and service.’”

You can watch McMorrow’s entire Flashpoint interview below.

Local 4 chats with Michigan Senator Mallory McMorrow about a speech that is getting national attention. The Michigan senator joins us to discuss her comments and how it’s making people reflect on what is going on in politics today.

Previously: Viral speech: Michigan Sen. Mallory McMorrow fires back at colleague’s ‘grooming’ accusation

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.