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‘Burden on our beliefs’: Muslim, Christian parents rally for right to opt-out from LGBT lessons

by

Daily Caller News Foundation

  • Carrying signs reading “let kids be kids” and “let parents parent,” Muslim and Christian parents rallied against a Maryland school district’s policy prohibiting them from opting their child out of LGBTQ lessons, which they say violates their religious beliefs and their ability to raise their kids, the Daily Caller News Foundation observed. 
  • Speakers at the rally emphasized that their opposition to the policy isn’t about just one religious group, but about parents of all religious affiliations standing up for their kids, the DCNF observed. 
  • “We don’t celebrate actions that go against our faith. We have a certain set of actions, sexual regulations and we want to teach our kids that this is the correct way to approach sex and sexual conduct. When the state comes in at an early age and starts introducing ideas, like transgenderism, or that there are more than two sexes, or even use terms that our kids can understand, that does create a burden on our beliefs,” Kareem Monib, a Muslim parent, told the DCNF. 

GREENBELT, Maryland — More than 100 Muslim and Christian parents rallied on Wednesday arguing that a Maryland school district’s policy that prohibits them from opting their child out of LGBTQ lessons violates their religious beliefs and their ability to raise their kids, the Daily Caller News Foundation observed.

Members of the Muslim, Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christian faith rallied ahead of oral arguments in the Mahmoud v. McKnight case, a lawsuit filed by a coalition of parents against the Montgomery County Board of Education after the school district decided parents could no longer opt their children out of lessons that discussed books about preferred pronouns, pride parades and gender transitioning, for the right to “let kids be kids,” the DCNF observed Wednesday. Carrying signs reading “let parents parent,” Muslim and Christian parents told the DCNF that the school board’s policy allows teachers to push a different worldview and ideology on their children.

“We believe that the state is trying to impose a particular moral system on our kids,” Kareem Monib, a Muslim parent, told the DCNF.  “That’s what we see. We cannot allow that to happen, because that will be the end of our [Muslim] community. Those kids will grow up hating their parents. They’ll grow up believing that their religion is wrong. In fact, they’ll even believe that their God is not compassionate, because the way that the other side frames it is that we’re denying their humanity whereas we do not believe that a person’s sexual conduct has to do with their identity. That’s just not in our worldview.”

In November 2022, Montgomery County Public Schools released a list of LGBTQ-inclusive books that would be implemented in elementary school classrooms and lessons throughout the school year, according to a school presentation. Students in pre-kindergarten will read “Pride Puppy,” a story of a family and their child celebrating Pride Day that features words such as “intersex,” “drag queen” and “underwear,” and in fifth grade students will read “Born Ready,” a book that promotes the idea that “a child-knows-best” when discussing “gender transitioning” and teachers are encouraged to reinforce a student’s decision to change their gender.

The lawsuit was filed after the school board alerted parents in March that they would no longer be notifying families of gender identity lessons and that parents would be unable to opt their children out of such lessons, the lawsuit, Mahmoud v. McKnight, was filed.

At the rally ahead of the oral arguments in the Mahmoud v. McKnight case, members of Kids 1st, an association supporting the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, encouraged Muslim and Christian attendees to stay push back against the Montgomery County Board of Education until they get the right to opt-out of lessons, the DCNF observed.

Attendees at the rally carried replicas of the U.S. Constitution and American flags as well as signs reading “keep the opt-out” and “do not infringe on our 14th amendment rights,” the DCNF observed. One individual wore a “Keep America Great” hat.

The Greenbelt Police Department was called to stop the rally which was taking place in a parking lot across from the courthouse. The individual who called the police and was present at the demonstration declined to comment when the DCNF asked who they were and why they had called the police on the rally.

“We don’t celebrate actions that go against our faith. We have a certain set of actions, sexual regulations and we want to teach our kids that this is the correct way to approach sex and sexual conduct,” Monib told the DCNF. “When the state comes in at an early age and starts introducing ideas, like transgenderism, or that there are more than two sexes, or even use terms that our kids can understand, that does create a burden on our beliefs.”

Dagmawi Lakew, an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian who immigrated from Ethiopia and is a parent within the school system, told the DCNF that he came to the United States to escape policies that the school district is imposing.

“Almost all these people [at the rally] left their own countries to come here because we don’t have freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom to assemble the way we want,” Lakew told the DCNF. “We left our countries and our family and came to the United States because those rights weren’t given to us. And now slowly, but surely, those rights are literally being stripped away from us.”

After the rally and prior to the oral arguments in the Mahmoud v. McKnight case, individuals backing the Montgomery County Board of Education read children’s books such as “When Aidan Became a Brother,” a story about a girl who believes she is actually a little boy, and “Who Was Harvey Milk?,” a biography of the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, outside of the courthouse, the DCNF observed.

“I would say that we all belong in classrooms and all spaces,” Philip Alexander Downey, chief executive of Live In Your Truth, an LGBTQ activist organization, said at a press conference following the oral arguments in the Mahmoud v. McKnight case. “When we start talking about being able to opt out of different identities, I just want to ask, where does it start and where does it end? Because there are so many people who unfortunately are uncomfortable around others just because of other things that happen in our society. We’re trying to teach humanity and how to treat every single person and individual with respect and that every single person belongs.”

After nearly three hours of oral arguments in the Mahmoud v. McKnight case, U.S. District Judge Deborah Lynn Boardman, who was appointed by Democratic President Joe Biden, announced that she would decide whether she would grant the coalition of parents a preliminary injunction, blocking the school district’s current policy, by Aug. 28, the first day of school for students within Montgomery County Public Schools.

“The reason why I’m involved and a lot of these parents that you see here today are involved is because it has to do specifically with our children,” Wael Elkoshairi, a Muslim parent speaking on behalf of the rally attendees, told the DCNF. “I don’t know how to get up on a podium. I’ve never been trained to do public speaking or to handle press interviews, but for the sheer fact that we want to protect our children, we have been learning and we have been adapting to deal with this issue. We’re just a bunch of parents looking out for our kids. That’s it. We don’t affiliate with any Republican or Democratic entity.”

Montgomery County Public Schools did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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