TikTok users and activists are intentionally gumming up an email inbox established by the state of Virginia's Republican governor that allow parents to report teachers they believe are "behaving objectionably”.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin campaigned on stopping Critical Race Theory in public schools – an easy task, considering CRT is not taught in K-12 schools – and established an email address that parents could use to report teachers who they deem inappropriate.
"...[It's] for parents to send us any instances where they feel that their fundamental rights are being violated, where their children are not being respected, where there are inherently divisive practices in their schools," Mr Youngkin told conservative radio host John Fredericks.
The governor's move prompted pushback from teachers' rights and free speech advocates. Activists – spurred on in part by singer John Legend – are filling the state's email inbox with bogus reports in an effort to make the reporting system unusable.
"Black parents need to flood these tip lines with complaints about our history being silenced," the singer wrote in a tweet. "We are parents too."
According to Insider, a 21-year-old woman from California automated the disruption process by building a website that floods the government's inbox with false reports.
The emails her website sends include the name of a Virginia public school, along with a vague accusation of "teaching racism" or "teaching race," followed by the lyrics to a pop song.
Sofia Ongele, the woman who created the website, told Insider that it has attracted around 1,500 people every thirty minutes, meaning at least 24,000 people have visited it since Thursday morning.
She told the outlet she was "indescribably angry" at conservative media figures who "stoke nonexistent division”.
"Seeing that Glenn Youngkin was trying to vilify educators, I thought I would do everyone a favor and take that tip line down," she said.
TikTok users are also getting in on the action; several have shared videos urging their followers to file false reports to the tip line.
The same method was used in the fall when Texas was trying to implement a similar reporting system aimed at doctors who preform abortions. TikTok users shared the contact information and flooded the state with false reports, rendering the reporting system unusable, at least for a time.
Critics of the governor have said the email reporting system villainises teachers – and some teachers have confirmed that is exactly how they feel.
Oveta Scott, a Prince William County middle school teacher with more than a decade of teaching experience, talked to ABC 7News about the reporting system.
"We are human beings too. We are going through it too," she said. "Why are you vilifying us and attacking us? What are we doing? We're trying to stay afloat. We have a shortage of substitutes. We have a shortage of bus drivers. Every day, I have to look for an email to see if I'm covering someone's class. Every day."