News (USA)

Judge rules parents can’t yank kids out of classes because they use books with gay characters

pages of Pride Puppy
Pride Puppy is a children's book about a puppy that goes to a parade Photo: Orca Book

A federal judge has ruled that parents don’t have the right to opt their kids out of classes because teachers use books with LGBTQ+ characters. The parents insisted that the children’s books constituted “sex education.”

The books included benign picture books like Pride Puppy, a story of a dog that goes to a Pride parade, and Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, a children’s book about a family that goes to a same-sex wedding.

According to a district statement on its “Inclusive and Welcoming Learning” initiative, the LGBTQ+-inclusive materials are part of the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) efforts to cultivate “an inclusive and welcoming learning environment” and “to create opportunities where all students see themselves and their families in curriculum materials.”

Three religious parents challenged the policy, claiming it violated Maryland state law that allowed parents to opt their kids out of sex education classes. They claimed the policy violated their religious freedom.

“The decision comes after plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction in June and following a hearing on August 9 before District Judge Deborah L. Boardman. MCPS remains committed to cultivating an inclusive and welcoming learning environment and creating opportunities where all students see themselves and their families in curriculum materials,” the district said in a statement.

“We also will continue to adhere to our responsibility to include instructional materials that reflect the diversity of the local and global community by exploring the aspirations, issues, and achievements of women and men, people with disabilities, people from diverse racial, ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds, as well as those of diverse gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.”

The decision to deny the injunction means all students returning to classes on Monday will participate in lessons outlined in the curriculum. It does not mean an end to the court case, however. The full case will need to be heard and a final judgment issued.

Parents supportive of the policy and religious and anti-LGBTQ+ activists have repeatedly protested outside school board meetings.

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