A judge appointed by President Biden has ruled that Maryland parents have no right to opt their children out of an LGBTQ curriculum being implemented in schools.
This ruling has been met with criticism from some parents who feel it undermines their ability to make decisions about what topics are appropriate for their children’s education.
The decision highlights the ongoing debate over the role of ‘woke’ curriculum in public education and how far parents should have a say in what is taught to their children.
Becket, a non-profit law firm, represented multiple parents in the district who sought an injunction before the first day of school on August 28.
This was due to the district’s policy change in March which no longer allowed parents to opt their children out of materials that advocated pride parades, gender transitioning, and pronoun preferences for kids as young as pre-kindergarten.
The lawsuit alleged that this policy violated their First Amendment religious rights to determine their children’s educations.
In a press release, Becket explained, “The new ‘inclusivity’ books were announced last fall for students in pre-K through fifth grade. However, instead of focusing on basic principles of respect and kindness, the books champion controversial ideology around gender and sexuality. For example, one book tasks three and four-year-olds to search for images from a word list that includes ‘intersex flag,’ ‘drag queen,’ ‘underwear,’ ‘leather,’ and the name of a celebrated LGBTQ activist and sex worker. Another book advocates a child-knows-best approach to gender transitioning, telling students that a decision to transition doesn’t have to ‘make sense’; teachers are instructed to say doctors only ‘guess’ when identifying a newborn’s sex anyway. Other books focus on children’s romantic feelings.”
“The School Board revoked notice and opt-outs for these storybooks earlier this year, contrary to Maryland law and the Board’s policies,” the law firm added. “Even the Board’s elementary school principals protested that the books were age-inappropriate, dismissive of students’ religious beliefs, and present as facts information that is not factual.”
Judge Boardman rejected the arguments, claiming in her ruling that “the plaintiffs’ asserted due process right to direct their children’s upbringing by opting out of a public-school curriculum that conflicts with their religious views is not a fundamental right.”
“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,” Judge Boardman added. “Nonetheless, because a constitutional violation is not likely or imminent, it follows that the plaintiffs are not likely to suffer imminent irreparable harm, and the balance of the equities and the public interest favor denying an injunction to avoid undermining the School Board’s legitimate interests in the no-opt-out policy . . . The plaintiffs seek the same relief pending appeal as in their preliminary injunction motion: an injunction that requires the Board to provide advance notice and opt-outs from instruction involving the storybooks and family life and human sexuality. For the reasons stated in this opinion, the Court cannot conclude the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of an appeal. The plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction pending appeal is denied.”
Becket is bringing the case to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“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,” said Eric Baxter, vice president and senior counsel at Becket. “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.”
“The court’s decision is an assault on children’s right to be guided by their parents on complex and sensitive issues regarding human sexuality,” Baxter continued. “The School Board should let kids be kids and let parents decide how and when to best educate their own children consistent with their religious beliefs.”