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Montgomery County Councilmember Pushing LGBT Opt-out Ban Forced to Apologize to Muslim Opponents

June 12, 2023

Montgomery County Councilmember Kristin Mink issued a defensive apology Sunday after comparing Muslim parents and students to “white supremacists” for their opposition to a county policy that would make LGBT books required reading. “I regret that although my remarks were focused on promoting inclusion, they created an opportunity for misunderstanding and mischaracterization. I apologize for the hurt that this caused in the Muslim community,” wrote Mink, in an email obtained by The Washington Stand.

The wealthy D.C. suburb angered parents in April when Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) announced it would not allow parents to opt their children out of any LGBT content — or inform them beforehand — except for sex-education curriculum, where an opt-out is required by state law. Over the past year, MCPS has expanded the number of books on its reading list featuring LGBT+ characters and themes, with LGBT-related content beginning as early as Pre-K.

“Students and families may not choose to opt out of engaging with any instructional materials, other than ‘Family Life and Human Sexuality Unit of Instruction’ which is specifically permitted by Maryland law. As such, teachers will not send home letters to inform families when inclusive books are read in the future,” said MCPS.

“We asked them to just leave an opt out in place because it goes against a lot of family values; many have a lot of religious values it goes against,” explained Lindsey Smith, mother of three children in MCPS and president of the Montgomery chapter of Moms for Liberty. “There’s a lot of parents that just think that their kids weren’t even mature enough to handle some of these readings and then have to explain some of these words.” The discredited left-wing organization SPLC added Moms for Liberty to their notorious “hate map” as an “anti-government organization” for their schoolboard-level advocacy for childhood innocence.

However, the new MCPS policy drew criticism from a minority group that usually aligns with the Democratic party — devout Muslims. A petition launched by Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Montgomery County Muslim Council argued that the MCPS decisions “undermine the rights of families and the spirit of Maryland state law.”

In May, Muslim and Christian parents joined together in a federal lawsuit against the school district, alleging that it violates Maryland law and parental rights.

The issue intensified when over 60 parents gathered outside a June 6 county council meeting, with 12 counter-protestors, including Mink. During the public comment portion of the meeting, Christian and Muslim parents spoke against the policy — and so did their students.

After the public comments against the bill, Mink remarked, “This issue has unfortunately … put some — not all, of course — some Muslim families on the same side of an issue as white supremacists and outright bigots.”

Muslim families were outraged at Mink’s statement. CAIR demanded an apology from Mink in a Wednesday letter, noting her “past efforts to stand in solidarity with the Maryland Muslim community” but expressing “grave concern and dismay” over remarks they found “very alarming and disturbing.”

“Montgomery County Muslim families advocating for their rights to religious freedom have not knowingly collaborated with, endorsed, or supported any white nationalist groups, nor have any white nationalist groups influenced efforts within Maryland Muslim communities to restore these rights,” they argued. “Parents of various faiths and backgrounds have taken interest in this issue and acted independently.”

In a Thursday statement, CAIR also demanded an apology from Montgomery County Councilmember Lynne Harris, who stated earlier this month that she felt “kind of sorry” for a female Muslim student who testified against the opt-out ban and wondered how much she was “parroting dogma” learned from her parents.

Mink released a statement of apology on Sunday:

“On Tuesday, June 6, I spoke at a Montgomery County Board of Education meeting about inclusive education and whether families should be permitted to opt their children out of LGBTQIA-inclusive curriculum materials. I regret that although my remarks were focused on promoting inclusion, they created an opportunity for misunderstanding and mischaracterization. I apologize for the hurt that this caused in the Muslim community.

“Even when individuals disagree about difficult issues, I am committed to finding space to foster authentic dialogue and seeking points of understanding. I sat down to hear from Muslim community members before my remarks on Tuesday and with District 5 Muslim leaders on Thursday. I listened, and I understand their concerns.

“I look forward to continuing to work with members of our Muslim and LGBTQIA+ communities as we take on issues of importance for all residents.”

In response to the apology, CAIR Maryland director Zainab Chaudry acknowledged the apology but complained, “The growing sense of hurt and betrayal experienced by our communities over MCPS revoking the opt-out accommodation has been compounded by school board member Lynne Harris and Councilmember Mink’s deeply troubling remarks about Muslim families.”

The controversy comes as Gallup polling shows a dramatic increase in the percentage of Americans identifying as social conservatives. According to a May survey, 38% of Americans identify as conservative or very conservative on social issues, an 11-year high up from only 30% in 2021. Gallup reports that “the increase in conservative identification on social issues over the past two years is seen among nearly all political and demographic subgroups.” Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans who identify as liberal or very liberal on social issues has declined from 34% to 29% over the same period.

The incident emphasizes the potential fracturing radical gender ideology can create among leftist groups. The U.S. Department of Justice listed CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator that has collaborated to funnel millions of dollars to Hamas, a pro-Palestinian terrorist organization. CAIR also hosted Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), member of the far-left Squad, as a speaker at its 2019 banquet. Yet, when it comes to exposing elementary school students to inappropriate LGBT sexual content, CAIR aligns with parents — both Muslim and Christian — in outspoken opposition.

Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.