- Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin set up a tip line for parents to report their kids’ teachers.
- Gen Z activists are pushing back, urging people on TikTok to spam the tip line.
- One created a website that generates emails with random song lyrics. She told Insider thousands had already visited the site.
Thousands of people are spamming the tip line set up by Virginia’s new Republican governor to report public-school teachers over critical race theory, TikTok activists told Insider.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who assumed office earlier this month, announced an email address that parents could message to report teachers whom they believed were “behaving objectionably.”
The move has prompted widespread criticism, including from the singer John Legend. James Fedderman, president of the Virginia Education Association teachers union, told Insider he believed the tip line was “designed to intimidate educators simply trying to do their jobs.”
Now Gen Z is also mobilizing.
Sofia Ongele, a 21-year-old from Santa Clarita, California, told Insider she set up a website that automatically generates emails to send to the tip line.
Each email includes the name of a Virginia public school and the lyrics of a pop song. You can see three examples — which use the lyrics from “Hey Ya” by Outkast, “Material Girl” by Saucy Santana, and “Bonfire” by Childish Gambino — here:
Ongele said her website, which launched Wednesday, has so far attracted around 1,500 people every thirty minutes, meaning some 24,000 people have visited it as of Thursday morning. It is not clear how many emails each person sends.
“I’m indescribably angry with right-wing pundits trying to stoke nonexistent division while the US is actively being labeled a backsliding democracy,” she told Insider.
“Seeing that Glenn Youngkin was trying to vilify educators, I thought I would do everyone a favor and take that tip line down.”
Youngkin’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
‘Gen Z is not for the weak of heart’
Olivia Julianna, a 19-year-old from Houston, Texas, has also been urging people to flood the Virginia tip line. She has posted several TikToks over the past week, one of which has been viewed more than 37,000 times.
She told Insider: “Gen Z digital organizers consistently outperform these older politicians in using social media as a tool and I would highly recommend they stop trying to beat us at our own game because it has consistently become a source of embarrassment for them.”
Julianna is no stranger to TikTok activism: Last September, she published similar posts calling on people to flood a tip line set up by Texas Right to Life to report abortions after the state passed a law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. That website was taken down shortly after, and has not yet gone back up.
Both Julianna and Ongele are part of Gen-Z For Change, a group of more than 500 TikTokers that works to educate young people on social and political issues.
“Gen Z is not for the weak of heart,” Julianna said. “Glenn Youngkin is a newly-elected governor, and if he wants to start his time in office by challenging young activists in our spaces like the internet and playing by our rules, then game on.”