Religious families sue school district for allegedly subjecting their children to sexual content
Council on American-Islamic Relations previously asked Montgomery County Public Schools to change gender identity policy for restrooms to protect female modesty.
Muslim parents and activists are going after one of the wealthiest counties in America, which borders D.C. and hosts several federal agencies, for subverting their right to control their children's instruction on gender and sexuality and depriving Muslim girls of modesty.
Montgomery County Public Schools is willfully violating Maryland law and its own policies by withholding parental notice and opt-outs for "storybooks" that expose 3-year-olds to sex workers, kink and drag, tell fifth-graders that gender transitions don't have to "make sense" and celebrate elementary-age children in same-sex romances, a new lawsuit claims.
Religious liberty law firm Becket is representing Muslim, Catholic and Ukrainian-Orthodox parents, all of whom requested opt-outs and notifications before the March policy change, against county schools Superintendent Monifa McKnight and Board of Education members.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations posted a petition last month demanding McKnight and the board restore the right of parents to opt out children from "sexually-themed content or participating in sexually-themed lesson[s] and discussions, without any adverse consequences."
"For the past several weeks, families and guardians of children in MCPS have reported being denied the right to opt-out of Pre-K through 12 grade material covering subject matters that are sexually-themed," CAIR said. The petition now has more than 1,500 signatures and is also endorsed by the Montgomery County Muslim Council and Islamic Circle of North America Council for Social Justice.
It's at least CAIR's second attempt this year to change MCPS policy related to gender identity following complaints from Muslim parents.
Because the district lets boys and girls who identify as the opposite sex use each other's restrooms, a Muslim girl encountered a student "she perceived" to be male in the girls' restroom while adjusting her hijab. He saw "her hair exposed in violation of her sincerely held beliefs, leaving her feeling shocked and humiliated," CAIR's Maryland office said in February.
Parents have told CAIR their children now "wait until they return home at the end of the day to use the bathroom, raising concerns about poor health outcomes and the impact on school performance," the group said.
It asked MCPS for privacy doors for each individual stall in multi-occupancy public school bathrooms, mirrors in stalls, signage for multi-occupancy restroom so students know who's allowed in, and single-occupant restrooms to be the default in new buildings.
The district's plans for LGBTQ+ books in K-5 education were laid out in a presentation obtained by Fox News last fall. While the told the news outlet the "inclusive" materials were not "mandatory" and would not be used in curricula before families were notified, the FAQ section of the presentation mentioned opt-out requests without telling staff how to handle them.
MCPS reiterated that message March 22 after Fox 5 DC asked whether parents can opt out their children from the books, which had recently prompted complaints. A spokesperson said "a notification goes out to parents" and teachers will choose a "substitute text" if parents opt out.
The district backtracked the next day in a "revised message regarding the use of inclusive texts," saying state law only requires parental notice and opt-out for the "Family Life and Human Sexuality Unit of Instruction" and that LGBTQ+ books aren't part of it.
CAIR said April 4 the district refused to tell the group why it made the change or "what disciplinary action students might face" for refusing to participate.
MCPS is intentionally misreading state law so it can introduce prekindergarten and elementary school kids to books that "promote one-sided transgender ideology, encourage gender transitioning, and focus excessively on romantic infatuation" without their parents' involvement, the new suit says.
Parental notice and opt-out rights apply to "any teaching of 'indicators and objectives' or 'concepts and skills' regarding family life and human sexuality," and nothing in the law limits the instruction to "a single class or a discrete section of the curriculum," the parents allege.
The suit quotes district guidelines on "respecting religious diversity" that add further protections. The district pledges to "accommodate" requests to be excused from discussions or activities that students or parents believe "impose a substantial burden on their religious beliefs," and provide "alternative" reading assignments on the same grounds.
It names and depicts several illustrated books in the mandatory curriculum. Pre-K teachers use Pride Puppy, which shows an "age-inappropriate" pride parade including the "self-defined 'transvestite'" sex worker Marsha Johnson and an accompanying resource guide from the activist Human Rights Campaign.
The first- through fifth-grade curriculum includes books that celebrate same-sex marriage, promote gender-neutral restrooms and preferred pronouns and reinforce sex stereotypes including that long hair makes a person a girl, the suit states. Love, Violet and Born Ready praise elementary school girls who romantically pursue a same-sex peer and identify as a boy.
The new policy of surreptitious, mandatory instruction not only violates the parents' religious beliefs but is "inconsistent with sound science, common sense, and the well-being of children," the plaintiffs claim.
The suit cites research that finds gender confusion is transient for most children, including the previous edition of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health's standards of care, and "significant evidence that an individual’s well-being is not improved to a statistically significant degree by indulging that individual’s subjective perception of his gender identity," such as a Lancet Child & Adolescent Health paper in 2021.
Other research suggests children who "experience feelings of same-sex attraction or infatuation" do not universally "identify as gay or lesbian in adulthood."
MCPS did not respond to Just the News requests for responses to the lawsuit and how it answered CAIR's earlier request for more privacy in restrooms. CAIR has not responded to queries for three months.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook
- hosts several federal agencies
- new lawsuit
- Council on American-Islamic Relations posted a petition
- CAIR's Maryland office said in February
- presentation obtained by Fox News
- Fox 5 DC asked if parents can opt out
- "revised message regarding the use of inclusive texts
- CAIR said April 4
- Lancet Child & Adolescent Health paper