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Parents Sue MD School District to Opt-Out Their Kids from Mandatory LGBTQ-Themed Lessons

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A diverse group of religious parents in Montgomery County, Maryland filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against their local board of education. They're fighting a policy that prevents parents from opting their children out of school instruction regarding gender orientation and human sexuality, even though Maryland law and the board's own written policy say otherwise. 

The 48-page complaint alleges the Montgomery County Board of Education violated Maryland law and the First Amendment rights of parents. The lawsuit asserts that the free exercise of religion means the parents have a right to opt their children out of lessons that use Pride Storybooks. The books are a series of children's books from the LGBT activist group the Human Rights Campaign promoting gay and transgender themes, according to The Washington Examiner

Last fall, new "inclusivity" books were introduced for students in pre-K through eighth grade that "promote one-sided transgender ideology, encourage gender transitioning, and focus excessively on romantic infatuation — with no parental notification or opportunity to opt out," according to the lawsuit. 

One book tasks three- and four-year-olds to search for images from a word list that includes "intersex flag," "drag queen," "underwear," "leather," and the name of a celebrated LGBTQ activist and "sex worker". 

Another book advocates a child-knows-best approach to gender transitioning, telling students that a decision to transition doesn't have to "make sense"; teachers are instructed to tell children that doctors only "guess" when identifying a newborn's sex anyway.

The learning guide to another book about a playground same-sex romance invites school kids to share with classmates how they feel when they "don't just 'like' but … 'like like'" someone.

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Attorneys with Becket, a nonprofit religious rights law firm, are representing a group of Muslim and Christian parents who want their children to have alternatives to storybooks that are age-inappropriate or inconsistent with their religious beliefs and sound science.

According to Becket, when the board of education first announced the "pride" storybooks, it assured hundreds of concerned parents they would be notified when the books were read and could opt their children out. It repeated that assurance to parents as recently as March 22, 2023. 

But the very next day, everything changed. After announcing that the books would be mandatory for all elementary school students, one school board member accused concerned parents that opting out their child "is just telling that kid, '{H}ere's another reason to hate another person.'"
"Children are entitled to guidance from their own parents, who know and love them best, regarding how they'll be introduced to complex issues concerning gender identity, transgenderism, and human sexuality," said Becket Vice President and Senior Counsel Eric Baxter in a press release. "Forced, ideological discussions during story hour won't cut it, and excluding parents will only hinder, not help inclusivity."

Soon after the school board announced its intent to flout Maryland's opt-out law, a diverse coalition of religious parents began pushing back. Despite their faith differences, the parents agree the new storybooks are age-inappropriate, as well as spiritually and emotionally damaging for their children.

The lawsuit seeks to restore their ability to help their own children on such complex and sensitive issues.

"Like states nationwide, Maryland has long recognized that parents have the right to opt their children out of school activities that conflict with their religious beliefs or push sham science," Baxter said. "When it comes to kids, it's still 'mom and dad know best.' Schools can best help kids learn kindness by teaming up with parents, not cutting them out of the picture."

Becket attorneys are asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to immediately block the school board's "no notice, no opt-out" policy.

CBN News reached out to the Montgomery County Board of Education for comment.  We will add it here if we hear back. 

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of