In a Thursday Instagram Live broadcast with Editor-in-Chief Lisa Daftari, Sharon McKeeman, founder of the family rights’ organization, Let Them Breathe, opened about her journey towards championing freedom of choice for children and their education in light of the latest announcements that school children will go back to masking this fall in some United States’ cities.
McKeeman and many others with nonpublic and public education backgrounds who got involved in advocating for family and student rights originally did so when schools shut down during the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) in 2020 and did not reopen in the fall.
With San Diego announcing it will go back to masking up students this school year and issuing distance learning for those who refused, McKeeman, like many others, explained that counties like San Diego never really changed their policies. McKeeman explained that her organization has been “trying to alert people that schools in Los Angeles and San Diego are bent on doing the wrong thing for students because of big union influences, extreme agendas outside of San Diego, and poor school leadership.”
The issue of children, masks, and school reopening has continued to be a top issue in states throughout America, particularly in places like California and New York, which are all Democratically dominated. From mid-2020 through 2022, state and local counties in Democratic states have mandated the COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandate on children from K-12, without any other alternative. Many parents and students have spoken out against such demands, citing sources from credible research about children and low risks of COVID and the mental effects masking has on child development.
In the interview, McKeeman stated that she was part of the lawsuit that was “successful in reopening California schools.” Even though the suit was successful, according to McKeeman, students did not experience effective education because they had to cover themselves with masks. In the interview, she stated that she was one of the first few to speak out against the state and local rules when no one else would.
“Are masks effective? Are they harming our children?” asked McKeeman. As she began to raise these vital questions, increased parents supported her actions, given their concerns over these issues. McKeeman stated that she was grateful for the care that many in the nation have had towards her and her organization’s efforts against the California state government.
“We sued Governor Newsom; we were incredibly involved in advocacy, collaborating with numerous school boards that did want to do the right thing, passing mask choice resolutions, supporting students in peaceful noncompliance. We ended the mask mandates once and will continue to advocate for effective education and against any other types of mandates,” said McKeeman.
Based near San Diego, CA., many of McKeeman’s efforts and victories stem from the Southern California area, but her organization Let Them Breathe and sister organizations Let Them Choose and Let Them Learn focus on giving tools to parents all over the country who are dealing with what they believe is lack of choice when it comes to these mandates.
McKeeman noted the numerous mitigation strategies and the fact that studies have shown children are at minimal risk. “We’ve collaborated with parents, school board trustees throughout the state and the nation to end mask mandates, and other people in different states who filed lawsuits because they were inspired by what we did,” explained McKeeman.
Regarding the issue of whether masks are effective for children, McKeeman addressed that cloth masks are ineffective and are effective in transmission rates for children and instead get filthy after several minutes are not effective in preventing COVID-19.
“Covering up their facial expressions and their means of communication is incredibly dangerous and detrimental to our kids.” She stated that parents who look at the information from the organization’s experts like Dr. Tracey Hoeg find that the actual data shows masking students is harming their social and linguistic development.
“There is now a 20 percent decrease in pass rates in minority students, and these kids that are getting masked back up in San Diego Unified are the ones that are either at risk or have had learning loss, which is why they are in the summer programs.” McKeeman also addressed a dark fact of the mask mandates against children, leading to self-harm, drug abuse, and suicide. Parents have had conversations with McKeeman and her organization, documenting their stories and revealing the heart-breaking instances that resulted in children’s facial expressions while being masked.
According to McKeeman, the first considerable success for her and her organization was building a community through social media outlets like Instagram and Facebook during the pandemic. She noted that while the issue of mask mandates has become politicized, it is brought together people from all political backgrounds who are putting the needs of their children first.
“We helped people come together, crowdfund, and move forward with legal action; something that felt impossible to parents,” stated McKeeman.
On her organization’s website, letbreathe.net they offer resources for parents through the Smile Toolkit, a compilation of legal demand letters, complaint forms that parents can file, and advocacy resources that help parents and students understand their rights.
Another success McKeeman shared was striking down San Diego Unified’s mandate that excluded any high school students above a certain age that “didn’t choose to get the jab, arguing in court that it violated their rights and state law.” While San Diego is trying to appeal the decision by the judge to rule against the mandate, McKeeman is confident that her organization will win the suit.
As a result of these developments and the uncertainty of how school districts will decide this fall, many mothers, fathers, and communities have rallied to fight these mandates issued by governors, schools, state legislatures, teachers’ unions, and local politicians, suing the state and running for state and local county school boards. As Blue states continue to extend their mask mandates and vaccine requirements, parental rights groups like Let Them Breathe continue to support parents in their lawsuits and individuals running for state and local elections to overturn mask and vaccine mandates.
“These school boards could look completely different within just a few months if parents ran in November,” said McKeeman.