‘Arbitrary, Unscientific, And Irrational’: D.C. Mayor Sued For Requiring Masks At Religious Schools, Not Bars, Concerts

DC is "unconstitutionally burdening Catholic schools and treating them unequally," according to the lawsuit.
(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Parents are suing the mayor of the District of Columbia for requiring children at religious schools to wear masks while those attending concerts or drinking in bars may go maskless.

Parents Sheila Dugan and Matthew Johnson are suing the mayor on behalf of their minor children, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking “appropriate declaratory and injunctive relief” to exercise their parental rights.

Represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, the two families are suing the city for continuing to mandate that their children wear masks in school while lifting mandates for almost every other activity int he district.

“The lawsuit comes after ADF attorneys sent a letter last Monday to the director of the DC Department of Health requesting that the mayor and department officials lift the mask mandate for children, staff, and teachers at religious schools,” ADF said in a press release.

“Plaintiffs Sheila Dugan and Matthew Johnson exercise their Catholic faith by sending their children to a Catholic school and providing their children faith-based formation and education,” the lawsuit says. “They send their respective children to a Catholic school located in the District, which they have found to be the most suitable school given their children’s stage in life.”

“Yet the Catholic school they have chosen for their children’s formation and education is subject to a mask mandate, even though a litany of comparable secular and religious activities—such as eating in a restaurant, working out at the gym, attending a concert and sporting event, going to the movies, or attending Mass— are not subject to Defendants’ mask mandate,” the lawsuit continues.

Bowser’s mask mandate for restaurants, bars, concert halls, and sports venues ended Feb. 14, but the mayor left the mandate for school children to wear masks in place.

“Defendants’ mandate requiring the children to wear masks in their Catholic school classrooms—while allowing children and adults to not wear masks nearly everywhere else—is arbitrary, unscientific, and irrational,” the lawsuit says. “Under Defendants’ policy, a child could sit for hours at the Wizards game at the crowded Capitol One Arena without wearing a mask, but she must cover her face for seven hours a day, the moment she steps into her Catholic school building.”

DC Mayor Sued For Requiring… by Mary Margaret Olohan

The lawsuit says that the city is “unconstitutionally burdening Catholic schools and treating them unequally,” adding that the prolonged mask mandate has had “substantially detrimental effects on” children’s Catholic formation and education. 

“The masks—although they may seem trivial for most adults who only had to wear them for short periods time before and now do not even have to wear them almost anywhere in the District—impose a substantial and significant burden on the children’s religious education,” the lawsuit continues. 

Children in religious schools have to wear the masks for seven hours a day, causing the children to occasionally suffer headaches and occasional dizziness, difficulty breathing, and physical discomfort, the suit says.

According to the suit, children also have difficulty hearing and understanding their teachers and peers due to prolonged mask usage and face threatened or disciplinary actions by school staff over the masks.

All this detracts from class instructions, according to the lawsuit.

The “children are not only missing out on the fullness of their religious education and formation but also have pleaded not to be sent to the school or have lost joy and interest in school,” the suit continues.

The mask mandate also “impermissibly infringes” on parents fundamental rights to direct the upbringing of the children, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit also warns that “the prolonged mask use has caused difficulty in developing phonic, social, and emotional skills, which are not only critical to schools generally but also are indispensable to the whole point of a Catholic school, learning to communicate and embody God’s love for others.”

Bowser did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Wire.

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