Former President Donald Trump praised Moms for Liberty, a group that fiercely opposes instruction related to race and gender identity in the nation’s classrooms and has been labeled “extremist,” as “joyful warriors" as he headlined their annual conference Friday.

The two-year-old group, which was founded in Florida in 2021 to fight local COVID school mask mandates and quarantine requirements, has quickly become a force in conservative politics as an advocate for “parental rights.” But it has also been accused of preaching hate, with the Southern Poverty Law Center recently labeling it an “extremist” group for allegedly harassing community members, advancing anti-LGBTQ+ misinformation and fighting to scrub diverse and inclusive material from lesson plans.

The conference, being held at a downtown Philadelphia hotel, has nonetheless drawn leading Republican presidential candidates, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running second to Trump and kicked off the gathering by casting 2024 as the year that parents “finally fight back."

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