A federal court in Maryland ruled Thursday that parents don’t have the right to opt their children out of a curriculum that includes books about radical gender theory.
Biden-appointed Judge Deborah L. Boardman said that parents’ “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,” Fox News reported.
Last year, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) introduced 22 new books into elementary-aged classrooms that featured LGBTQ characters and radical gender theory topics and then stopped parents from opting their children out of gender and sexuality instruction in March. The move sparked outrage from many religious parents who, along with Becket Law, filed a lawsuit challenging the district’s decision in May. Concerned parents requested a preliminary injunction that would allow them to opt their children out of the LGBTQ curriculum when school begins next week.
The district’s LGBTQ curriculum is intended to be taught to pre-k through 8th-grade students and includes references to sex change procedures, drag queens, “intersex” identity, gay pride parades, and preferred pronouns, according to National Review. One of the books also says that doctors simply “guess” a baby’s sex when it is born.
“Today, the district court decided parents have no right to notice when extreme ideology is pushed on their elementary-age children during story hour,” Becket senior counsel Eric Baxter posted to X Thursday. “With the new school year beginning, the case is on the fast track to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals—and the parents plan to appeal the decision.”
“Children are entitled to enjoy a period of innocence and be guided by their own parents on how and when to approach the complex and sensitive issues being pushed by the School Board,” he added.
Once upon a time, the Montgomery County School Board provided parental notice and opt-outs for books that advocate pride parades, gender transitioning, and pronoun preference for kids as young as pre-Kindergarten. https://t.co/FIS0Q548Zg
— Eric Baxter (@esbax) August 24, 2023
The federal judge argued that the school district banning the opt-out policy does not infringe on parents’ religious beliefs.
“The no-opt-out policy does not pressure the parents to refrain from teaching their faiths, to engage in conduct that would violate their religious beliefs, or to change their religious beliefs. The policy may pressure them to discuss the topics raised by the storybooks with their children, but those discussions are anticipated, not prohibited, by the parents’ faiths,” Boardman said. “The parents are not pressured into violating their religious beliefs in order to obtain the benefits of a public education.”
MCPS has also faced scrutiny for numerous sexual abuse controversies in recent years, according to Fox News. The school system has paid out more than $1 million in settlements after lawsuits accused teachers and staff of schools of sexually assaulting students.