Court Decides Schools Can Teach LGBT Topics

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In a growing environment of left-wing activism in schools, especially related to LGBT ideology, parents who have not been able to influence curriculum have had the option of opting their kids out of classes. Not any longer, at least according to a federal appeals court in a Maryland case of three families suing for the right to religious freedom for their elementary school-aged children in public schools.

In August of 2023, three families — one Muslim, one Christian, and one Jewish — brought a case against the Montgomery County Board of Education for a recent policy change removing the opt-out option for curriculum. Previously, parents received advanced notice of materials that would be read to their children and could opt out. The school board announced that parents would no longer receive advanced notice of materials, and they could no longer opt out of readings or lessons.

A year prior, according to the case, “In the spring of 2022, the School Board had determined that the books in its English language arts curriculum were not sufficiently representative because they did not include LGBTQ characters.” Maryland law requires schools to give parents the opportunity “to view instructional materials to be used in the teaching of family life and human sexuality objectives.” The school board also has an opt-out policy for religious exemptions in place.

However, there is a clause that states that “if such requests become too frequent or too burdensome, the school may refuse to accommodate the requests. Schools are not required to alter fundamentally the educational program or create a separate educational program or a separate course to accommodate a student’s religious practice or belief.” Deciding that LGBT inclusion in the curriculum was fundamental to the educational program and the requests were too burdensome, the school board simply declared parents could not opt out of LGBT content any longer.

Judge’s Ruling

Last week, U.S. District Judge Deborah Boardman dismissed the parents’ concerns and noted that every court that has reviewed similar mandatory public school curricula has found that “mere exposure in public school to ideas that contradict religious beliefs does not burden the religious exercise of students or parents.”

She insisted, “The parents still may instruct their children on their religious beliefs regarding sexuality, marriage, and gender, and each family may place contrary views in its religious context.”

“No government action prevents the parents from freely discussing the topics raised in the storybooks with their children or teaching their children as they wish,” Boardman wrote in Thursday’s order.

The decision was upheld by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Their reasoning was that the parents could not demonstrate how the LGBT-themed books would be used in the classroom and therefore could not determine if they would infringe on their beliefs.

Contrary to the First Amendment

Eric Baxter, vice president and senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, argued, “That runs contrary to the First Amendment, Maryland law, the School Board’s own policies, and basic human decency.”

“Parents should have the right to receive notice and opt their children out of classroom material that violates their faith,” he added.

In contrast to the Fourth Circuit’s reasoning, reviewing the Montgomery County Public Schools website makes it clear why these books are in the classroom. The website has a dedicated LGBT section stating, “We have welcoming, affirming schools, classrooms, teams, and clubs. We value all of our children, youth, teachers, staff, and parents.” The section provides an extensive list of LGBT content, resources, and “How to” guides for students, staff, and parents.

Students are provided a Coming Out as YOU! guide that instructs them on how to come out, including a “safety plan,” which tells the students to make sure they have a safe place outside their home to stay; someone, seemingly besides their parents, that they can trust; and to “Consider letting a friend know that you’re planning on coming out and if you don’t text them by a certain time you might need help because your safety might be in danger.” The guide tells students they should decide what they identify as daily, which can change day by day.

The school’s Culturally Responsive Supplemental Elementary ELA Collection is the biggest concern point for parents, as it details the content students will be provided. Students grades kindergarten to second grade are provided more than eight separate LGBT titles, half of which are trans-focused. One book, titled Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope, states in its description, “Penelope knows that he’s a boy. (And a ninja.) The problem is getting everyone else to realize it.”

Three books focus on a character named Max, a transgender-identifying elementary school-aged student who dedicates time to educating friends, teachers, and parents about what being transgender means. Several books are focused on same-sex relationships: one about a prince and a knight who fall in love, one about a child’s gay uncle getting married, and a book for 4- to 8-year-olds titled Love, Violet, about an elementary-aged girl who falls in love with another girl.

Not being subtle, another title for this age group is IntersectionAllies: We Make Room for All, a book on intersectional feminism that teaches kids how to be activists, and a book titled Let’s Eat Bugs! for fifth graders provides recipes on eating insects. The school also offers an LGBT club for elementary school students.

The Obvious Purpose

The school system’s agenda is pretty obvious.

Is it any wonder that religious parents would be concerned about their children — again, kindergarten to fifth grade — being exposed to extreme LGBT ideology? Critics pretend kids are just being told stories that include LGBT characters and that only bigots would oppose kids learning about different types of people. The first judge dismissed the parents saying they “failed to show that the lack of an opt-out policy would result in the ‘indoctrination of their children’ or ‘coerce their children to violate or change their religious beliefs.’”

However, these are books designed to teach kids about being LGBT themselves, not simply about LGBT experiences, history, or health education. This is an environment where kids are heavily encouraged to explore sexuality and gender ideology, with expansive resources, instruction guides, and clubs. Of course religious parents would consider this to be an invasive level of activism and indoctrination.

It should be obvious to anyone that forcing parents to accept this instruction for their children violates their religious freedom, and the obnoxious dismissal from a judge that parents can simply undo whatever their kids learn in school further mocks these sacred rights. Left-wing, LGBT activists simply want full control over children’s education and have constructed a system that not only excludes parents but intentionally isolates their children from them in school.

LGBT activists believe they know best for all students, and that all students need to learn about LGBT ideology in an open, proactive, and affirming way, and if parents oppose this instruction, they don’t need to know about it, or worse, have no power to stop it. Unfortunately, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals just strengthened this abuse of power by school systems, degrading parental rights and religious freedom even further.


Chad Felix Greene is a senior contributor. He is the author of “Surviving Gender: My Journey Through Gender Dysphoria,” and is a social writer focusing on truth in media, conservative ideas and goals, and true equality under the law. You can follow him on Twitter @chadfelixg.

Chad Felix Greene
Chad Felix Greene
Senior Contributor. Chad is the author of Surviving Gender: My Journey Through Gender Dysphoria, and is a social writer focusing on truth in media, conservative ideas and goals, and true equality under the law.

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