Thursday, October 29, 2020

Misinformation about Love Lives Here

by Loti Laferriere, Will Hiatt, Deidre McMullin, Valeri McGarvey
| October 18, 2020 12:00 AM

On Sunday, Oct. 11, a letter to the editor claimed that local teen groups had been “attacked” by Love Lives Here and other sources. The leadership team of Love Lives Here would like to set the record straight.

In August 2020, a local teen informed Love Lives Here that two Turning Point USA (TPUSA) groups for high school students had appeared on Instagram, both carrying the names of local high schools but not officially associated with the schools. At the time, we made social media posts informing parents and community members about these groups and pointing them toward a 19-page report by the Montana Human Rights Network that thoroughly documented many racist, homophobic, and antisemitic comments by staff and spokespeople for TPUSA, which is the parent organization for the local teen groups. This report was written in response to Charlie Kirk’s visit to Kalispell in March 2020.

At no time did we identify the teens involved in these local TPUSA groups or try to hinder their ability to meet. We believe they have the right to exist and meet off school grounds. At the same time, people in the Flathead Valley have the right to know what information the national TPUSA organization is promoting and how they are trying to recruit students across the country.

We are very concerned about TPUSA for many reasons, including the attacks that the national group instigates against college professors using their ominously-named “Professor Watchlist,” which led to the harassment of a professor in Montana. Recently, TPUSA was in the news because one of their affiliates was paying teens to post misleading comments on Facebook using fake profiles.

Love Lives Here will continue to inform community members about the actions of national Turning Point USA leaders that are featured in news reports. We believe that parents, schools, and community members have the right to have that information and understand how it could influence local students.

—The Love Lives Here leadership team chair Loti Laferriere, Will Hiatt, Deidre McMullin, Valeri McGarvey