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School district's no-opt-out policy regarding LGBT books challenged by religious parents who say it requires teachers 'to shame children’ for their faith
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School district's no-opt-out policy regarding LGBT books challenged by religious parents who say it requires teachers 'to shame children’ for their faith

Parents from various religious backgrounds came together to take legal action against a Maryland school district after it withdrew its opt-out policy, requiring students to participate in lessons with LGBT-themed books.

In March, Montgomery County Public Schools alerted parents that they would no longer be able to have their children opt out of certain curricula.

The district also informed parents that it would introduce LGBT-themed books into the classroom for pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students.

In an email to parents, MCPS stated, "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."

On May 23, parents from a variety of faith backgrounds came together to file a lawsuit against the district, imploring officials to provide an opt-out option.

Will Haun with Becket Law, the parents' legal counsel, told the Daily Signal on Thursday that the lawsuit is "about restoring the right to opt out" and "not a challenge to get the pride books out of the curriculum."

"These books are in fact teaching explicit sexual orientation and gender identity issues as early as pre-k," Haun stated. He claimed that the school's policy would "require teachers to make dismissive statements about a student's religious beliefs, to shame children who disagree, and to teach as facts things that some would not agree are facts."

He told the Daily Signal that parents have formed a "united front on the fact that parents get to guide their children's religious upbringing, that parents are the first teachers on a child's own self-understanding."

The parents' case will be brought before a judge on Wednesday to consider a preliminary injunction against the no-opt-out policy.

This week, a parents' rights advocacy group obtained emails from the school through a public records request that revealed elementary school principals within the district had questioned the age-appropriateness of the LGBT-themed books.

In November, one principal expressed "concerns that some of the books are not appropriate for the intended age group and not appropriate for all young students." The emails also revealed that other school leaders disagreed with the district's no-opt-out policy, noting "significant concern by some parents about 'indoctrination' or 'hidden agendas.'"

A spokesperson for the district told the Washington Post that the documents "gathered observations of a few system principals and shouldn't be considered comprehensive."

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