Appeals Court: Parents Cannot Opt K-5 Children Out of Pro-LGBTQ Curriculum

On Wednesday, a federal appeals court ruled that parents in Maryland’s largest school district do not have the right to opt their children out of pro-LGBTQ curriculum in the K-5 grades.

As reported by Fox News, the 2-1 ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a previous decision by a lower court, which denied the parents a preliminary injunction based on their alleged failure to prove that the policy would constitute a violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

The plaintiffs, three pairs of parents who sued Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), argued that their children being forced to read such books as “The Pride Puppy,” “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding” and “Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope,” would be in violation of both federal law and state law.

Such teachings directly clash with what the parents want to teach their children about “what it means to be male and female; the institution of marriage; human sexuality; and related themes.”

The pairs of parents each represented one of the three Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. They were supported in their lawsuit by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and argued that it was their responsibility, not the school’s, to teach their children about sexuality.

But the appeals court ruled that children being exposed to conflicting worldviews is “part of the compromise parents make when choosing to send their children to public schools,” and did not amount to a big enough burden that it would qualify as a First Amendment violation.

“We take no view on whether the Parents will be able to present evidence sufficient to support any of their various theories once they have the opportunity to develop a record as to the circumstances surrounding the Board’s decision and how the challenged texts are actually being used in schools,” wrote U.S. Circuit Judge G. Steven Agee, who was appointed by George W. Bush appointee, in the opinion of the majority. “At this early stage, however, given the Parents’ broad claims, the very high burden required to obtain a preliminary injunction, and the scant record before us, we are constrained to affirm the district court’s order denying a preliminary injunction.”

The lone dissent came from U.S. Circuit Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum, Jr., who was appointed by President Donald Trump.

“The parents have shown the board’s decision to deny religious opt-outs burdened these parents’ right to exercise their religion and direct the religious upbringing of their children by putting them to the choice of either compromising their religious beliefs or foregoing a public education for their children,” said Quattlebaum in his dissent.

“The court just told thousands of Maryland parents they have no say in what their children are taught in public schools,” said Eric Baxter, senior counsel and vice president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “That runs contrary to the First Amendment, Maryland law, the School Board’s own policies, and basic human decency.

The case and its outcome represent a major setback for the parents’ rights movement, which began in 2021 and subsequently saw widespread grassroots success in local and state elections across the country, culminating in the red wave of 2021 which saw Republicans sweep Virginia and nearly flip New Jersey.

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

Photo: Transgender flag in the LGTB Pride Parade in Valencia ( spain

Notable Replies

  1. What’s worse is that this system is built on theft. It is time to overhaul education and make all of it private. What could be more abhorrent than forcing homeowners to pay taxes to governments sponsoring such insanity? If one doesn’t pay those taxes annually (and they always increase!), there goes the house. Public schools should not exist. Period.

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