A Maryland district court ruled Thursday that Christian and Muslim parents cannot opt their children out of lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation.
A coalition of religious parents sued the Montgomery County Public School Board in March after being notified that students could no longer opt out of lessons discussing gender identity and sexual orientation, arguing that such instruction violates their religious rights. Judge Deborah Boardman denied a preliminary injunction that would have reinstated an opt-out policy ahead of the 2023-2024 school year that begins on Monday. (RELATED: Muslim Community Revolts Against ‘Sexually Explicit’ Books In Schools, Shuts Down Board Meeting)
“The Court concludes the plaintiffs’ asserted due process right to direct their children’s upbringing by opting out of a public-school curriculum that conflicts with their religious views is not a fundamental right. Rational basis review is the appropriate level of scrutiny,” Boardman wrote in her opinion.
Montgomery County Public Schools released a list of LGBTQ-inclusive books in November 2022 that would be implemented in elementary school lessons throughout the year, according to a school presentation. In pre-kindergarten, students will be read “Pride Puppy,” a story of a family celebrating Pride Day that discusses the words “intersex” and “drag queen,” and in fifth-grade students will read “Born Ready,” a book that promotes the idea that “a child-knows-best” when discussing “gender transitioning.”
“Montgomery County Public Schools remains committed to cultivating an inclusive and welcoming learning environment and creating opportunities where all students see themselves and their families in curriculum materials,” the district said in a press release following the decision. “We also will continue to adhere to our responsibility to include instructional materials that reflect the diversity of the local and global community by exploring the aspirations, issues, and achievements of women and men, people with disabilities, people from diverse racial, ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds, as well as those of diverse gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.”
Ahead of oral arguments for the case on Aug. 9, Muslim, Catholic and Greek Orthodox parents rallied in front of the court house arguing that the school district’s policy violates their religious beliefs and their ability to raise their kids.
“We don’t celebrate actions that go against our faith. We have a certain set of actions, sexual regulations and we want to teach our kids that this is the correct way to approach sex and sexual conduct,” Kareem Monib, a Muslim parent, previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “When the state comes in at an early age and starts introducing ideas, like transgenderism, or that there are more than two sexes, or even use terms that our kids can’t understand, that does create a burden on our beliefs.”
Carrying signs reading “let parents parent,” Muslim and Christian parents rallied Wednesday against a school district’s policy that prohibits them from opting their child out of LGBTQ lessons, which they argue violates their religious beliefs.
— Reagan Reese (@reaganreese_) August 9, 2023
The coalition of parents who sued the school board plan to appeal Thursday’s ruling, according to a press release by Becket Law, the firm representing the plaintiffs.
“The court’s decision is an assault on children’s right to be guided by their parents on complex and sensitive issues regarding human sexuality,” Eric Baxter, senior counsel at Becket law, said in the press release. “The School Board should let kids be kids and let parents decide how and when to best educate their own children consistent with their religious beliefs.”
Montgomery County Public Schools referred the DCNF to its press release.
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