Minneapolis Area School District Says It Will Let Muslim Families Opt Out Of LGBT Lessons

The families said their elementary school children were exposed to LGBT characters.
A Polish wave a rainbow flag as he takes part to the Gay Pride parade on June 7, 20008 in Warsaw. Some 2,000 people paraded on June 7, 2008 through the streets of Poland's capital in support of gay rights, as an opinion poll showed the deeply Catholic country largely hostile to homosexuality. AFP PHOTO/ WOJTEK RADWANSKI (Photo credit should read WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

A Minneapolis area school district says it will let families opt out of LGBT curriculum materials after several Muslim families threatened to sue.

St. Louis Park Public School District just west of Minneapolis said it will allow families to opt their kids out of reading books with LGBT themes.

Somali Muslim families had threatened to sue the district, alleging that not allowing families to opt out potentially violates the Constitution and state law.

On November 2, the families’ attorneys sent the district a letter explaining Islamic teachings around gender and sexuality and outlining the timeline of parents’ complaints about the LGBT books.

Some of the families’ elementary school children had been exposed to LGBT characters in picture books, which caused “significant confusion and distress,” the families’ letter said.

Back in October, several St. Louis Park elementary schools reportedly introduced a number of LGBT books, “Our Subway Baby,” which is about two men who adopt a baby, “My Shadow Is Pink,” which is about a boy who wears dresses, and “Ho’onani: Hula Warrior,” which is about a young Hawaiian girl who wants to lead a boys hula team.

Parents claimed that they had requested their children be opted out of reading these books, but two elementary school principals refused.

In a statement, the St. Louis Park district said that it has “always complied with the state law regarding parents’ statutory right to opt out of instructional materials, and we will continue to do so.”

However, classroom discussions are not subject to opt-outs because they “do not constitute instructional materials,” the district said.

The district added that it will not conduct a review “on behalf of any families or attempt to determine what materials may be considered objectionable.”


“Opt-outs based on representation of protected classes do not uphold our values of creating safe and inclusive learning and working environments in our schools,” the statement continued. “However, because it is required within state law, any change would need to happen with the involvement of state lawmakers.”

Minnesota requires every school district to have a procedure for parents to review instructional materials. If a parent objects to material, the district must “make reasonable arrangements with school personnel for alternative instruction.”

The families who had complained hailed the statement as a win.

“We think this is a win for religious freedom for people of all faiths, without even having to go to court,” said Kayla Toney, an attorney with First Liberty Institute, which represented the families.

Hodan Hassan, a mother with four children in the district, said she was happy with the district’s move.

“We came to America for religious freedom in the Constitution, and so our kids will have a great opportunity,” Hodan told the Sahan Journal.

“By granting us and other families the opportunity to opt out of teaching that violates our deeply held religious beliefs, families are able to raise their children according to the principle that they value the most,” the mother said.

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