Anchorage School Board candidate says she was endorsed by Moms for Liberty, but is not a member

Mar. 30—Chelsea Pohland, a first-time Anchorage School Board candidate, said in an interview Friday that she has been endorsed by the Anchorage chapter of Moms for Liberty, a national "parental rights" nonprofit, but is not a member.

In response to a question from the Daily News earlier in the month asking if she was a member of Moms for Liberty, Pohland said in a March 13 email, "Yes, I am!" She later told Alaska Public Media that she had spoken with members of the group but was not a member.

Then, in a March 27 email to the Daily News, Pohland said, "I must have mistaken the question of 'are you a member' that I later did come to see."

Pohland's opponent, incumbent board member Carl Jacobs, has criticized her association with the group during his campaign, calling the group extremist.

Moms for Liberty, which is established in the Mat-Su and recently started an Anchorage chapter, has made national headlines for its efforts to remove references to LGBTQ+ identity, gender fluidity and race in schools, and has focused on electing school board members that align with its views.

The group has drawn opposition from groups including the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has labeled it as extremist and says its ideas harm minority and LGBTQ+ students.

Pohland said in an interview Friday that she and Kay Schuster — who is also running for school board and is Pohland's sister-in-law — had both received a text that said they had been endorsed by the group's Anchorage chapter.

Schuster declined to comment for this story.

Moms for Liberty confirmed the endorsements in an email Friday.

"Chelsea brings a firsthand understanding of our community's needs. Her unwavering integrity ensures that she will prioritize the well-being of our students, making her the ideal candidate to advocate for our children's education and future," Gabby Ide, chair for the local chapter, wrote in the email.

Schuster "is deeply committed to the success and welfare of every student. Her longstanding presence in the community and widespread respect make her the ideal candidate to advocate for positive change and ensure excellence in education for all," Ide wrote.

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Pohland said she agreed with many of the group's stances — including the belief that transgender students should only be allowed to play on sports teams or use bathrooms aligned with their biological sex.

"Firstly, I acknowledge that the mission statement of Moms for Liberty, particularly their advocacy for parental rights in education, aligns with many of my views. I believe in empowering parents and ensuring their voices are heard in our educational system. However, it's crucial to distinguish between sharing common values on specific issues and being an active member registered for Moms for Liberty. I have not attended any of their meetings, paid dues, or signed any documents that affiliate me directly with the group."

"While I appreciate their support, I am committed to serving all members of our community, regardless of their affiliations, and my primary focus is on what is best for our students, teachers, and schools," she added.

Schuster, who has campaigned with Pohland, has expressed similar views. She recently told a local conservative blog that she believed only biologically female students should be allowed to play on girls' sports teams.

Jacobs, in a prepared statement Friday, said, "I'm disappointed to see a candidate for school board running a campaign which relies heavily on their own lacking credibility and blatant misinformation. Extremism, divisive rhetoric and partisan politics have no place in our schools. As a dad, foster parent and Anchorage voter, when any candidate shows me who they are and what they stand for, I believe them."