A group of Christian and Muslim parents filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Montgomery County Board of Education in Maryland for prohibiting them from opting their children out of reading books about preferred pronouns, pride parades and gender transitioning.
Parents were informed in a March 23 email that they would not be notified about gender identity lessons happening at the district’s schools and removed the option of opting out from taking the classes or reading the material. Over 70 parents showed up to board meetings to protest the decision, but to little avail, leading a group of parents to file a lawsuit arguing that the board’s policy violated their faith and protections under the First Amendment.
“They can’t legally work around their own parental opt-out policies,” Eric Baxter, vice president and senior counsel at Becket Law, the firm representing the families, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “By ending the opt-out guidelines, the County violated the Constitution, Maryland law, and its own policies. That’s why we’re bringing this lawsuit.”
New books were introduced during the 2022 fall semester that focus on subjects like transitioning, pride parades and what pronouns kids can use, according to the lawsuit. One of the books, “Pride Puppy,” is for kids age 3 and 4 and encourages them to find “drag queen,” underwear” and “leather” in a word list.
Another book for fifth-graders, titled “Born Ready,” pushes the idea that “a child-knows-best” when discussing “gender transitioning” and teachers are encouraged to affirm the child’s chosen identity, according to the lawsuit.
“When we are born, people make a guess about our gender and label us ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ based on our body parts,” reads a presentation to go along with the book. “Sometimes they’re right, and sometimes they’re wrong. Our body parts do not decide our gender. Our gender comes from inside—we might feel different than what people tell us we are. We know ourselves best.”
Prior to the board’s email on March 23, its policy “commit[ed] to making feasible and reasonable accommodations for [religious] beliefs and practices,” according to the lawsuit. However, parents who objected to the material and asked for accommodations were told by school administrators that Montgomery County Public Schools would not be “supporting parents opting out of the Pride Storybooks, and teachers are not required to provide alternative assignments.”
“All the parents in the lawsuit could opt-out until the County decided on March 23 to bypass their own guidelines and end the opt-out policy,” Baxter told the DCNF. “Ironically, the School Board is saying that high school students can still opt out of sex-ed classes while it is pushing more extreme ideology into kindergarten storytime.”
MCBE did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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