Military Investigates Mother for Facebook Post Objecting to LGBT Banners

By Jackson Elliott
Jackson Elliott
Jackson Elliott
Jackson Elliott reports on family-related issues and small-town America for The Epoch Times. His current focus centers around parental rights in education, as well as the impact of progressive ideology in curricula and transgenderism in youth. He can be reached at:
February 10, 2023Updated: February 11, 2023

New Jersey mom Angela Reading didn’t expect a single Facebook post would deem her a “security threat” in the opinion of U.S. military officials.

But it has, military documents confirm.

“They’ve created this image of me—that I’m some sort of domestic terrorist—because I don’t want sexual posters hanging on the wall in an elementary school,” she told The Epoch Times.

“People legit [legitimately] believed that me posting online that I didn’t like posters meant that I was a terrorist.”

Epoch Times Photo
New Jersey mother Angela Reading, was deemed a “threat” by officials with the U.S. military after they learned of her Facebook post expressing concern about an LGBT poster at an elementary school. (Courtesy of Angela Reading)

Reading said she eventually resigned her job at the school board because of overwhelming pressure against her because of her Facebook post.

Emails show military officials encouraged school superintendents to demand Reading’s resignation.

The U.S. Army and Air Force, the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security, and local law enforcement agencies classified Reading’s Facebook post about LGBT posters at her school as a “security threat,” emails obtained by Reading under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and shared with The Epoch Times show.

Eventually, U.S. Army Major Christopher Schilling discussed his concerns about the post possibly causing violence with 16 government actors.

The issue unfolded Nov. 22, 2022, when Reading wrote on Facebook that pro-LGBT banners at Upper Elementary School (UES) in North Hanover, New Jersey,  seemed inappropriate.

The post had a disclaimer that Reading wasn’t speaking in her capacity as a school board member.

Children at the school made the posters, which included pride flags representing transgender, pansexual, “genderqueer,” “bisexual,” and other sexual orientations.

The term genderqueer refers to a person who does not identify with conventional gender distinctions. A person who identifies as genderqueer may identify as neither male or female; or both male and female; or a combination. 

The term pansexual refers to a person with feelings sexual attraction toward people not limited to any one sex or “gender identity.”

“Why are elementary schools promoting/allowing elementary kids to research topics of sexuality and create posters?” Reading’s Facebook post read, in part. “Also, how can my young children be accepting of people ‘who are sexually attracted to multiple genders’? [sic] They don’t know what sex is!”

She has worked in public education for 10 years and was the Northern Burlington Board of Education’s vice president, she said. She’s never attended a protest and rarely posts on Facebook, she said.

“You’re not going to find political propaganda on my Facebook. You’re not going to find anything extreme. I am milquetoast boring in the public eye,” she said.

Mom Versus Military

But a long list of U.S. government institutions and individuals saw her as a danger to children, emails show.

The list includes institutions: the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, the New Jersey State Police, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office of Counter-Terrorism, and the New Jersey State Police Regional Operations Intelligence Center.

It also includes an Air Force colonel, Army majors, state police, a local police chief, a Homeland Security detective, and other federal law enforcement and defense personnel. Many of these people had ties with the nearby joint military base, McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

Epoch Times Photo
The Facebook post by Angela Reading that opposed a poster introducing sexual orientation to kindergartners. (Courtesy of Nik Stouffer)

The emails show military and police suggested that by showing UES’s name and the posters celebrating sexual minorities, Reading had exposed the school and its families to attack by far-right extremists.

None of the publicized emails among these people mentioned any actionable suspicion of a violent threat. But the pressure they generated was enough to get Reading to resign from her school board position.

Schilling announced on Facebook that the local military base was taking action because of threats caused by Reading’s post. Reading said statements like these implied to her community that she was encouraging violence.

“The current situation involving Mrs. Reading’s actions has caused safety concerns for many families. The Joint Base leadership takes this situation very seriously and from the beginning have had the Security Forces working with multiple state and local law enforcement agencies to monitor the situation to ensure the continued safety of the entire community,” Schilling’s Facebook post reads.

The military’s intervention poisoned Reading’s community against her, she said.

Online posts called her a “stochastic terrorist,” she got hate messages telling her she should die, local parents accused her of exposing children to harm, and friends left her.

“People that my husband and I have helped and teachers who we love and care for, we lost everyone,” she said. “We lost all our close friends.”

“I’m getting harassed. People are sitting outside my house,” she said. “It’s becoming a really unsafe situation for my two small children. I ended up resigning from being vice president of the school board.”

Defending the Pride Flag

The uproar started when Schilling learned of Reading’s post and notified U.S. Air Force Major Nathaniel Lesher and Lieutenant Colonel Megan Hall on Nov. 29, 2022.

“Our initial concern is that she needlessly listed the county and township while sharing pictures of the posters that identify the school’s name: UES. This gives a road map to anyone looking to make a statement, political, ideological, or even violent,” he said in the email.

He added that Reading posted screenshots naming the parents who disagreed with her views but blacked out the names of her friends.

“There is a growing concern among many parents at all of these schools that her rhetoric is going to inspire someone to act out,” Schilling said in the Nov. 29 email to Air Force officers.

Epoch Times Photo
A poster displayed at Upper Elementary School in North Hanover, N.J., encourages children in 4th-6th grades to accept sexual minority identities. (Courtesy of Angela Reading)

Reading said she recently learned Schilling bears a grudge against her, but she doesn’t know him personally. He is a member of the No Place for Hate parental committee at the regional school district. Reading once spoke against the No Place for Hate program while serving as curriculum chair.

“Chris Shilling and Megan Hall are leftists,” she said. “Chris Schilling, I’ve come to learn through everything, has hated me for a very long time. He has no children in my district. But he’s friends with people that I know from other towns who are extreme, extreme, political leftists.”

On Nov. 30, Schilling again emailed Hall and Lesher. This time, he told them a local parent had discovered that Reading’s post had been published by the parental rights Substack page “Chaos and Control.”

The local parent called the group “a far right extremist online publication.”

“This is unacceptable and endangers our children,” the local parent told Schilling by email, he told the officers.

Facebook Terrorism?

The same day, Lesher replied he would send the email to North Hanover police chief Robert Duff and Joseph Vazquez, the installation antiterrorism program manager at the McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst base.

Vasquez replied the same day, saying he would contact the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the New Jersey State Police Regional Operations Intelligence Center.

“Both agencies [sic] analysts keep an eye on far right/hate groups. Wish I could do more,” Vasquez wrote in his email reply.

“This really gets under my skin for sure … my thoughts are with the family,” Vasquez said in the same email. He referred to the unnamed family Schilling claimed felt threatened by Reading’s post.

Then, Duff contacted Nik Stouffer, the writer for Chaos and Control. Stouffer also runs New Jersey Fresh Faced Schools, the Facebook page where Reading originally posted. He asked her to remove Reading’s post.

Epoch Times Photo
Nik Stouffer, the founder of the pro-parental rights Chaos and Control substack. (Courtesy of Nik Stouffer)

“In addition, Duff revealed to Mrs. Stouffer and later to me that he was acting in cooperation with the local military base, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, and that Homeland Security was also involved—both federal agencies apparently having been engaged in the improper monitoring of Facebook and other social media postings of ordinary citizens exercising their First Amendment rights,” Reading wrote in a document summarizing the emails discovered.

Stouffer complied, she told The Epoch Times, because Duff told her there was a threat to North Hanover UES.

“He was telling me that there was an actual credible threat to the school,” she told the Epoch Times.

“He said that he had to put additional officers in the school because of her. Because of what Angela wrote on Facebook.”

Government Fights for Gender Ideology

Stouffer said it’s not the first time the government has shown up in person because she opposes radical gender ideology.

“I was visited by Homeland Security last time this year about the stuff that I was doing to get the masks off the kids,” she said.

She added that government training on “combating hate” for sexual minorities has indoctrinated the military into fighting parents.

“The military is so brainwashed,” Stouffer said. “They’ve been so brainwashed into this type of ideology that they feel as though that they need to protect it, and that they’re protecting the United States.”

Although Schilling’s email called her blog a “far right extremist” publication, Stouffer said her comment sections have “never” had threats of violence.

“They were concerned about one particular person who said that they would rip the posters off the wall to defend the children,” Stouffer said. “She wasn’t going to rip the children. She wasn’t going to hurt anybody.”

The commenter was a New Jersey grandmother.

“You can’t continually push sexuality on small kids,” Stouffer said. “And you know, they continually say that we’re extreme.”

After Duff persuaded Stouffer to take the post down, Duff emailed Schilling, Lesher, Vasquez, and Hall on Nov. 30, 2022 about his success. He told them he was committed to continued monitoring for the need for censorship.

“I will continue to see if I can get additional posts removed from other social media posts,” he told them.

On Dec. 1, 2022, Schilling asked Lesher, Hall, and Vasquez for more censorship. He told them Reading’s comments on Facebook identified a meeting location and times.

Reading’s comments showed screenshots of comments from other parents, presented without comment, she said.

“I’m not sure which agency has jurisdiction over the HS and what it would take for them to have a presence during the PTSC and BOE meetings there, but I wanted to pass along this concern,” Schilling said.

Air Force Bombs Career

Hall then emailed U.S. Air Force Col. Robert Grimmett, Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Steven Matthews, Northern Burlington County Regional School District superintendent Andrew Zuckerman, and North Hanover Township superintendent Helen Payne.

Hall said Reading’s posts endangered military families.

“These posts have created a concern for the safety of our military children and families as they could become targets from extremist personnel/groups,” Hall wrote in the email.

She suggested to the superintendents that Reading step down from her job on the school board over ethics violations.

Epoch Times Photo
Brig. Gen. Richard Devereaux, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center commander, greets Tech. Sgt. James Chubb, 421st Combat Training Squadron, after a convoy demonstration for civic leaders during the Center’s Outreach Day, July 21 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. (U.S. Air Force photo by Carlos Cintron)

Superintendent Payne then emailed school parents, telling them that social media posts about the LGBT posters caused “safety and security concerns for many families.”

Reading resigned from the school board on Dec. 7, 2022.

“Over the past year, it has become clear to me that board members are not afforded their freedom of speech or the God given [sic] right to have an opinion that may be different from others, due to the real and perceived harassment, intimidation, and bullying of a group of small minded individuals in and around our community,” she wrote in her resignation letter to Zuckerman and other school board members.

Police Fight Facebook Post

On Dec. 1, Vasquez asked Duff to forward Reading’s Nov. 2022 post to the nearby Mansfield Police Department.

Concerns over Reading’s post also reached Detective Alexander Burckhardt of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP), Joseph Sansone of the (NJOHSP), Peter Appleman of the (NJOHSP), Jamie Tilton of the Burlington County Prosecutors Office of Counter-Terrorism, and Erick Goncalves of the New Jersey State Police, emails obtained by The Epoch Times show.

On Dec. 5, 2022, Vasquez announced he was part of a “Threat Working Group” with Burckhardt, Sansone, Appleman, Tilton, and Goncalves.

Epoch Times Photo
A wall of posters in Upper Elementary School in North Hanover, N.J. encourages children in 4th–6th grades to accept sexual minority identities. (Courtesy of Angela Reading)

“The joint base leadership takes this situation very seriously and from the beginning have been working with multiple state and local enforcement agencies to monitor the situation to ensure the continued safety of the entire community,” Schilling wrote on the Northern Burlington Parents Facebook page.

When Reading attended the next North Hanover School Board meeting on Dec. 13, 2022, she was surprised to see that Duff had put in place a multi-jurisdictional force of police officers, metal detectors, and bag searches.

Duff also accessed surveillance video of the elementary school hallway in an effort to support his claim that Reading’s daughter hadn’t seen the materials in question, Reading said.

“He went around telling everybody that he accessed the surveillance photo and that my kids didn’t see the posters at all,” Reading said.

Living beneath the eye of the federal government has been terrifying, Reading said.

“I’m so scared. Like, why is the military coming after me?”

She plans to file a lawsuit against the federal government with the Thomas Moore Society, she said.

The Epoch Times reached out requesting comment from the McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Joint Base, Schilling, the Burlington prosecutor, the NJOHSP, Payne, Zuckerman, Matthews, Grimmett, Duff, Vasquez, Hall, and Lesher.

Before publication time, a joint base spokesman offered The Epoch Times a statement.

“Any information or concerns received by Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is passed onto the local civilian law enforcement responsible for jurisdiction.

“As fellow members of the local community, the safety of our service members, their families, and the community we live in, is of the utmost importance and we take every concern seriously,” the statement read.