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Maryland School District Lawyers Argue Gender, Sexuality Curriculum ‘Doesn’t Work’ If Students Can Opt Out

Maryland, (Qnnflash) – Lawyers representing Maryland’s largest school district argued in court on Wednesday that opt-out policies allowing parents to exempt their children from gender and sexuality lessons are undermining the district’s specific educational goals. This assertion came in response to a lawsuit filed by Muslim and Ethiopian Orthodox parents against Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in May. The lawsuit followed the district’s decision to reverse its original opt-out policy, which granted parents the right to refuse lessons that conflicted with their traditional beliefs. The lessons in question involve reading and discussing LGBTQ books selected by the district.

During the oral arguments, lawyers from both MCPS and Becket Law, the firm representing the parents, presented their cases.

The gender and sexuality lessons are part of MCPS’s English Language Arts curriculum, which the district’s lawyers indicated was a strategic decision. Maryland law mandates opt-out choices for health curriculum only.

MCPS lawyers contended that students rejecting sexuality instruction directly contradict the curriculum’s objectives. They argued that mandatory gender and sexuality education is essential for fostering understanding in a diverse society, emphasizing that the curriculum’s effectiveness relies on universal participation.

The curriculum aims to foster more inclusive classrooms by introducing a variety of perspectives. The district’s arguments noted that classic stories like Sleeping Beauty overemphasize heteronormative families. Launched in fall 2022, the curriculum features more than 20 “inclusive” book titles.

One of the contentious books prompts fifth graders to consider what it means to be “non-binary,” while another challenges the certainty of determining a newborn’s sex. The parents filing the lawsuit object to the district’s definition of “inclusivity” and argue that these LGBTQ-themed books contradict their religious beliefs. Without opt-out options, parents face a dilemma: withdraw their children from public school, which is financially unfeasible for many, or compromise their religious convictions.

The parents’ lawyers stated that these religious parents perceive the storybooks as inappropriate and spiritually and emotionally harmful for children. Their lawsuit seeks to restore the parents’ ability to guide their children on complex and sensitive topics.

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