A diverse group of religious parents in the US state of Maryland are suing their local board of education over a policy that prevents parents from opting their children out of school classes on gender and sexuality, even though state law and the board’s own policy says they are entitled to do so.
The lawsuit asserts that the free exercise of religion means parents have a right to opt their children out of lessons that use pride story books which are a series of children’s books with LGBT themes promoted by an activist group.
The complaint argues that the ‘inclusivity’ books which were recently introduced for kindergarten and primary school students, “promote one-sided transgender ideology.”
“The basis of the legal challenge will start with the First Amendment which protects the right of parents to direct the religious upbringing of their children,” said William Haun, senior counsel for Becket, a public interest group that filed the lawsuit on behalf of three Muslim and Christian families.
“That right has always included the ability to opt your children out of religiously objectionable curricula on sensitive matters going to the core of who a person is and what their religious beliefs are,” he explained
Mr. Haun told the National Catholic Register that the federal lawsuit will address the Montgomery County School Board’s alleged violation of both its own policies and those of the state of Maryland.
“Like 32 other states nationwide, Maryland allows parental opt outs for family-life and human-sexuality instruction. Every parent in this case got an opt out from these pride story books, and then the school board decided without any explanation to flip the script,” he explained.
Mr. Haun noted that the Montgomery Board of Education has continued to maintain opt-out provisions for other curriculum issues that pose concerns for religious parents and that the pride books were the only exception to that rule. He believes that inconsistency could trigger a higher standard of judicial review and so pose a greater challenge for the board to defend its position.
He’s asking a federal court to immediately block the current policy that bans parents from opting out.