A parental rights group included on the Southern Poverty Law Center's hate and extremism list thanked the "far-left" organization for bringing more attention to their advocacy for parents' rights in education.
"We consider it to be a badge of courage," Parents' Rights in Education's National Executive Director Suzanne Gallagher told Fox News "That just means we're doing our job."
PARENTS' RIGHTS GROUP THANKS SPLC FOR ‘HATE GROUP’ LABEL:
"They are the ones who are pointing at us," Gallagher said. "We really don't pay that much attention to them, actually."
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a notoriously left-leaning civil rights group, added some parents’ rights organizations as anti-government hate groups akin to neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan in their "Year In Hate and Extremism 2022" report released on Tuesday. After counting 733 "hate groups" in 2021, the number increased to 1225 "hate and antigovernment extremist groups" in the 2022 report, many of which were focused on parental rights in education.
"I almost feel like saying thank you to SPLC," she said. "We don't see these threats as being something that is going to stop us or hinder us. What it actually does is it gets us the attention of our allies."
Schools "have been on the receiving end of ramped-up and coordinated hard-right attacks," the SPLC report read. After being "spurred by the right-wing backlash to COVID-19 public safety measures," parental rights groups appeared to have "grown into an anti-student inclusion movement that targets any inclusive curriculum that contains discussions of race, discrimination and LGBTQ identities," according to the report.
But, Gallagher disagreed with SPLC's assessment. "Their claim of inclusion is bogus," she said. "Children are being marginalized in the school system."
Parental rights in education is an issue that "crosses all political parties and groups bringing them together," she continued. "We have seen it. I've talked to these people. They just want to protect their children and defend their rights as parents."
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more parents across the country have advocated for involvement in their kids' education. Debates over controversial curriculum like critical race theory as well as the presence of certain books in public libraries have become flashpoints nationwide.
Gallagher said there are valid concerns of escalated violence against their organization after being included on SPLC's list. In 2012, the Family Research Council, a Christian nonprofit, was targeted and attacked based on its inclusion in the Southern Poverty Law Center's "hate map."
"SPLC's listing of our group provokes violence," Gallagher said. "Are they just listing groups because they want us to be a target? Because that is actually what will result."
"But we don't care because we're on the right side of this issue," she continued.
Another parental rights group targeted in the report, Moms for Liberty, was labeled as an "extremist" organization that SPLC said has similar rallying cries to those who opposed school desegregation.
"Name-calling parents who want to be a part of their child’s education as ‘hate groups’ or ‘bigoted’ just further exposes what this battle is all about: Who fundamentally gets to decide what is taught to our kids in school - parents or government employees?," Moms for Liberty co-founders Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich previously told Fox News. "We believe that parental rights do not stop at the classroom door and no amount of hate from groups like this is going to stop that."
Gallagher said her organization would not be intimated from SPLC's name-calling. The executive director told Fox News she expects their numbers to grow dramatically following the report.
"We're going to continue doing what we're doing," she said. "And we're going to continue to provide all parents who ask [with] organizational tools, training and support so that they can stand against those who are stealing their rights."
To watch Gallagher's full interview, click here.
Lindsay Kornick contributed to this report.