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The Montgomery County (Md.) Board of Education has declared that parents will no longer be notified when kids are assigned pro-LGBTQ books, with no opt-outs allowed, prompting protests and a lawsuit from Muslim, Jewish and other parents.
According to The Washington Post, WTOP and other news outlets, the lawsuits are framed around claims that the new policy violates their First Amendment religious freedom. A group called Family Rights for Religious Freedom is supporting the parents.
The Post reported that the families seek an injunction to block policy enforcement while the court considers their lawsuit seeking a permanent exemption from the lessons for their children. A hearing on the injunction is set for Aug. 9, 19 days before the first day of school.
The parents claim that discussions and readings about gender and sexual orientation conflict with their faiths and are better suited as topics to be introduced in their homes.
The storybooks are reportedly part of a curriculum designed to diversify how language arts are taught in the district. At first, the school board had opt-out provisions, but those ended in March. School officials say state law doesn’t let parents opt out of school lessons, and they still can do whatever they wish at home. The only exceptions are that parents can opt out of family-life and human-sexuality lessons as part of the health curriculum. The school board also says it would be too disruptive and complicated to allow opt-outs.
WTOP reported that the concerned parents held a news conference and released a memo in which school principals also took issue with administrators about the curricula, saying that some of the books were inappropriate for younger children, among other concerns.
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