Bogus Campaign Signs in Virginia Were Not Posted by McAuliffe or Democrats

Quick Take

The role of parents in deciding school curriculum is a flash point in the Virginia gubernatorial race. Days before the election, bogus signs have appeared on streets and in social media posts reading, “Keep Parents Out of Classrooms,” and imply they were placed by Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe. But McAuliffe and the local Democrats said, “these signs are not ours.”

Full Story

A focal point in the close race for governor of Virginia between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin is who controls what is taught in schools.

McAuliffe, who was the state’s governor from 2014-2018, has said that parents shouldn’t be “telling schools what they should teach” in regards to the reading material, while Youngkin has said that parents should “be in charge.”

On Oct. 25, Youngkin released an ad criticizing McAuliffe for his stance on parental oversight of school curriculum. The ad featured a mother who pushed to have the 1987 novel “Beloved” by Toni Morrison banned from her son’s high school English curriculum, claiming the book gave him nightmares. The woman in the ad, Laura Murphy, is a Republican activist, and her son briefly interned for former President Donald Trump.

McAuliffe’s responded to the ad by accusing Youngkin of “book-banning,” while his campaign handed out copies of Morrison’s book with a bookmark that read, “Glenn Youngkin will ban books in Virginia schools.” 

Now, just days before the Nov. 2 election, campaign signs have appeared in Arlington, Virginia, and been shared on social media, suggesting the sign is from McAuliffe’s campaign.

“Keep Parents Out Of Classrooms. Vote McAuliffe. Keep Virginia Blue,” reads the sign, posted by a Facebook account called President Trump Fans.

Another Facebook page, “Californians for TRUMP – Original,” posted a photo of the sign with the caption, “Amazing- this is what democrats want- Free Brainwash of our Kids. ”

The Gateway Pundit — a right-leaning website that repeatedly spreads misinformation — posted an article with the headline, “Pure Marxism: McAuliffe Supporters Are Posting Signs Promising to ‘Keep Parents Out of Classrooms’ as Campaign Winds Down.”

Youngkin’s team tweeted a photo of the sign, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz retweeted the photo with a facepalm emoji. 

But Manuel Bonder, deputy communications director for the Democratic Party of Virginia, told in an Oct. 28 email that the signs were not created or erected by the Democratic Party of Virginia or McAuliffe’s campaign. 

“These signs are not ours,” Bonder said. “They were not sanctioned or distributed by ‘Terry for Virginia’ or the Democratic Party of Virginia.”

A spokesperson for the McAuliffe campaign, Christina Freundlich, told PolitiFact, “This is not a sign distributed by us. It’s not our sign.”

It’s not clear where the signs originated or who put them up. There are no organizations identified on the signs.

During the second and final gubernatorial debate on Sept. 28, McAuliffe said he wasn’t “going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision.”

“I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” he said.

Youngkin tweeted a video showing a portion of the debate with McAuliffe, and wrote, “I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.”

Polling shows the race is a toss-up just days before the election. Experts say voter turnout will decide the race and the outcome could signal which party will win control of Congress in the midterm elections next year.


Bailey, Phillip and David Jackson. “McAuliffe and Youngkin are in a dead heat with one week to Virginia governor election, poll shows.” USA Today. 26 Oct 2021. 

Blake Murphy” webpage. UF Law. Accessed 29 Oct 2021.

Bonder, Manuel. Email sent to 28 Oct 2021.

Brooks, Emily and Elizabeth Faddis. “Biden and McAuliffe make Beloved book-banning fear key to closing argument.” Washington Examiner. 26 Oct 2021.

Epstein, Reid J and Lisa Lerer. “G.O.P. Attack Involving Toni Morrison Novel Inflames Virginia Contest.” New York Times. Updated 29 Oct 2021.

Glenn Youngkin. (@GlennYoungkin). “Glenn Youngkin: ‘I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.’ Terry McAuliffe: ‘I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.’ #VAgov.” Twitter. 28 Sep 2021. 

Glenn Youngkin. (@GlennYoungkin). “What’s it like to have Terry McAuliffe block you from having a say in your child’s education? This mom knows – she lived through it. Watch her powerful story. #VAgov.”  Twitter, 25 Oct 2021.

Holt, Jim. “Pure Marxism: McAuliffe Supporters Are Posting Signs Promising to “Keep Parents Out of Classrooms” as Campaign Winds Down.” Gateway Pundit. 25 Oct 2021. 

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O’Rourke, Ciara. “No, this isn’t a real McAuliffe campaign sign.” PolitiFact. 27 Oct 2021.

Schneider, Gregory S. and Laura Vozzella. “Fight over teaching ‘Beloved’ books in schools becomes hot topic in Virginia governor’s race.” Washington Post. 25 Oct 2021.

Team Youngkin (@TeamYoungkin). “Spotted in Arlington.” Twitter. 24 Oct 2021. 

Ted Cruz (@tedcruz). “Face palm emoji.” Twitter. 25 Oct 2021.

Terry McAuliffe: ‘I Don’t Think Parents Should Be Telling Schools What They Should Teach.’” Video. C-SPAN. 28 Sep 2021.

U.S. House. “H.B. 516, Education, Board of; policy on sexually explicit instructional material.” (as introduced 09 Jan 2016.) 

U.S. House. “H.B. 2191, School boards; procedures for handling sexually explicit instructional materials, etc.” (as introduced 11 Jan 2017.)

Virginia Gubernatorial Debate.” Video. C-SPAN. 28 Sep 2021.

Zeleny, Jeff. “Democrats look to VA governor’s race for early signs of trouble in 2022.” CNN. 27 Sep 2021.

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