In a significant ruling, a federal court in Maryland has determined that parents lack the right to opt their children out of a curriculum that introduces books on radical gender theory. Judge Deborah L. Boardman, appointed by President Biden, stated that parents’ attempt to opt their children out of a public-school curriculum that clashes with their religious beliefs is not a fundamental right. This decision has generated debate, especially among conservative circles.
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) introduced 22 new books into elementary classrooms, featuring LGBTQ characters and addressing radical gender theory topics. Parents were prevented from opting their children out of gender and sexuality instruction. This sparked outrage among religious parents, leading to a lawsuit, in collaboration with Becket Law, filed in May. These concerned parents sought a preliminary injunction to allow opting out of the LGBTQ curriculum.
The curriculum, intended for pre-k through 8th-grade students, covers various sensitive topics, including sex change procedures, drag queens, “intersex” identity, gay pride parades, and preferred pronouns. A book even claims that doctors merely “guess” a baby’s sex at birth. The ruling prompted strong reactions from conservatives, with Eric Baxter, senior counsel at Becket, expressing that children deserve a period of innocence and parental guidance on these complex matters.
Judge Boardman contended that the school district’s opt-out ban does not infringe on parents’ religious beliefs. According to her, the policy may lead parents to engage in discussions about the topics raised by the storybooks with their children, but it doesn’t coerce them into violating their faith. The judge’s stance has stirred controversy, with many conservative voices challenging the implications for parental rights and religious freedom.
MCPS has also faced a string of sexual abuse controversies in recent years, culminating in more than $1 million in settlements due to lawsuits accusing teachers and staff of sexually assaulting students. This adds a layer of concern among conservatives, who argue that the school system’s lack of accountability undermines its authority to dictate sensitive curriculum decisions.