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Federal Appeals Court Denies Parents The Right To Opt Their Children Out Of Reading LGBTQ Books

A parent's group made up of Muslims, Christians and Jews and the Kids First Organization filed suit last year against the Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland for forcing their children to read books that involve gay, transgender and non-binary characters in different situations. On Wednesday, their appeal of an original filing was denied.

The parents' objection, relayed through their lawyers from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, stated the curriculum was a violation of their religious rights under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. The parents demanded an opt out for their children Montgomery County Public Schools so they would not have to use the books mentioned. The system denied that opt out right.

The books were approved for use in the school system's classrooms in 2022. The suit was denied in the lower court causing parents to file an appeal to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The lower court had declined to issue a preliminary injunction against the s citing the parents "lack of standing" in the issue.

On Wednesday the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals court in Richmond, Virginia stated that parents had not demonstrated how the MCPS book policy violated their right to exercise their religious freedom. U.S. Circuit Judge G. Steven Agee said the group had not given enough evidence to show that teachers were using LGBTQ+ books in their classrooms and had not demonstrated what teachers were teaching through the books.

The vote was 2-1. Agee, an appointee of GW Bush joined Biden appointee DeAndrea Benjamin to vote against the parents. The opposition was Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr., a Trump appointee. Quattlebaum's dissenting opinion was that the Board had violated the parents' first amendment right to direct the religious upbringing of their children.

Eric Baxter, a lawyer for the parents, promised a further appeal. "The court just told thousands of Maryland parents they have no say in what their children are taught in the public schools."

A MCPS lawyer made no comment.

Jan Greenhawk, Author

May 16, 2024

Jan Greenhawk is a former teacher and school administrator for over thirty years. She has two grown children and lives with her husband in Maryland. She also spent over twenty-five years coaching/judging gymnastics and coaching women’s softball.

This article was originally featured on the Easton Gazette.

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