Religious Parents Sue Maryland School to Opt Out of 'Pride' Storybooks

Religious Parents Sue Maryland School to Opt Out of 'Pride' Storybooks
A schoolteacher sorts through library books collected from students at a New York City school on June 29, 2020. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
Mimi Nguyen Ly

Christian and Muslim parents in Montgomery County, Maryland are suing the Montgomery County Board of Education to assert their right to pull their kids out of lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Lawyers representing the parents in the federal lawsuit said (pdf) that Montgomery County Public Schools, the largest school district in Maryland, has since March 23, been claiming "authority to introduce pre-K and elementary school kids to certain books (the 'Pride Storybooks') that promote one-sided transgender ideology, encourage gender transitioning, and focus excessively on romantic infatuation—with no parental notification or opportunity to opt out."

They noted that according to Maryland law, parents have the right to opt their children out of classroom instruction "regarding family life and human sexuality."

The School Board has always affirmed the parents' right to opt their children out of such classroom instruction, pursuant to the written policy, the lawyers argued.

They also noted that the school board had assured parents in an email on March 22 that the parents would be told when the "pride" storybooks would be read to the children, and that they would have a chance to opt out.


But on March 23, the school board "flipped positions" and has since been denying parents the right to opt their children out, lawyers said in the complaint.

The district said on March 23 that all teachers would be expected to use the “inclusive lessons and texts with all students.”

At a school board meeting on March 28, one of its members accused the concerned parents that by opting out, they are telling their child, "Here's another reason to hate another person."

Attorneys said in the complaint: "The School Board’s recent about-face strips away this long-standing protection of parental rights. This violates not just Maryland law and Board policy and practice but also the United States Constitution."

Library books on a bookshelf in a file photo. (John Moore/Getty Images)
Library books on a bookshelf in a file photo. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Parents Want Alternative

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a non-profit religious freedom legal group, is representing the plaintiffs.

The law firm said in a release that the parents "simply want their kids to have alternatives to storybooks that are age-inappropriate or inconsistent with their religious beliefs and sound science."

“Children are entitled to guidance from their own parents, who know and love them best, regarding how they’ll be introduced to complex issues concerning gender identity, transgenderism, and human sexuality,” Eric Baxter, the group's vice president and senior counsel, said in a statement.

“Forced, ideological discussions during story hour won’t cut it, and excluding parents will only hinder, not help inclusivity.”

No More Opt-Outs

The lawsuit notes that in the 2023–2024 academic year, the school district will not give any notice, and will not tolerate any opt-outs "because their kids must learn to be more 'LGBTQ-Inclusive.'"

The parents are asking the court to block this policy, which was announced after the district approved 22 "LGBTQ+-inclusive texts" that range from pre-K through grade 8.

“Like states nationwide, Maryland has long recognized that parents have the right to opt their children out of school activities that conflict with their religious beliefs or push sham science,” Baxter added.

“When it comes to kids, it’s still ‘mom and dad know best.’ Schools can best help kids learn kindness by teaming up with parents, not cutting them out of the picture.”

The Epoch Times has reached out to Montgomery County Public Schools via email for comment.