Judge Rules LGBT Propaganda in Classrooms Does Not Violate Religious Liberty
A federal judge is denying parents in Maryland the opportunity to opt out of subjecting their children to LGBT grooming material in classrooms. On Thursday, U.S. District Court judge Deborah Boardman, a Biden appointee, rejected a petition brought by Old Line State parents requesting the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) district, the state’s largest school district, restore a policy allowing parents to opt their children out of sexually-charged reading and classroom discussions.
Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for Education Studies at Family Research Council, told The Washington Stand, “This ruling ignores Maryland law, constitutional protections for religious freedom, and prepolitical rights of parents to direct the upbringing of their children. It is just the kind of judicial activism I would expect from a Biden appointment.”
The policy had previously allowed parents in Montgomery County to decide whether or not their pre-K through fifth grade children would participate in reading LGBT “Pride Storybooks,” but the opt-out option was removed by the school board earlier this year. Furthermore, the policy was changed so that parents also would not be notified when their children were going to be subjected to LGBT curriculum materials. One of those “Pride Storybooks,” for example, asks three and four-year-olds to search for images representing such things as “drag queens,” “leather,” and “underwear.” Another book encourages children to transition their genders, saying that the decision doesn’t have to “make sense” to others, like their parents.
The policy change sparked backlash from parents, with Muslim, Catholic, Orthodox, evangelical Christian, Jewish, and even atheist parents protesting the school board’s decision. The parents also filed a lawsuit, alleging the changed policy infringed on the religious liberties of those whose faiths deem LGBT ideology immoral. In the lawsuit, parents requested a preliminary injunction to maintain the opt-out policy before school starts.
In a written statement to The Washington Stand, Eric Baxter, vice president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the law firm which represented the Montgomery County parents, said, “Parents know and love their children best; that’s why all kids deserve to have their parents help them understand issues like gender identity and sexuality. The school board’s decision to cut parents out of these discussions flies in the face of parental freedom, childhood innocence, and basic human decency.”
Boardman ruled that no religious liberties were being infringed upon, adding that reading LGBT-themed books to children as young as three years old “is not indoctrination” and that children “are not being directly or indirectly coerced into activity that violates their religious beliefs.” She argued that parents are free to address these topics with their children at home after school.
Boardman also explained that she believed too many parents would opt their children out of the LGBT class materials, which she said “would expose students who believe the books represent them and their families to social stigma and isolation. The school board believed that would defeat its ‘efforts to ensure a classroom environment that is safe and conducive to learning for all students’…” She also denied the request for an injunction, writing, “Because the plaintiffs have not established any of their claims is likely to succeed on the merits, the Court need not address the remaining preliminary injunction factors. … [B]ecause a constitutional violation is not likely or imminent, it follows that the plaintiffs are not likely to suffer imminent irreparable harm.”
In a statement released after Boardman’s ruling, MCPS said it has a “responsibility” to “reflect the diversity of the local and global community by exploring the aspirations, issues, and achievements of women and men, people with disabilities, people from diverse racial, ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds, as well as those of diverse gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.”
Kilgannon encouraged parents to strongly consider their options outside of public school in light of the ruling.
“When MCPS will not even tell you that these topics are being discussed — in the name of inclusion — it is past time to think seriously about leaving the school system,” she commented. “The parents who have come together in this lawsuit might be able to start some pods or homeschool co-ops. I hope the area churches with schools will consider scholarships for the neediest among them. Parents have a right to know — that is a low bar for schools not to get over. I do think this decision will be reviewed and possibly reversed. There will be many more like it in the months and years ahead.”
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty announced it will appeal the decision and expects oral arguments to begin at the appellate level this fall.
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.