Federal Appeals Court: Maryland Parents Can’t Opt K-5 Kids Out of LGBTQ Subjects in Schools


Remember when parents were the final authority on what their kids should or shouldn’t be taught in schools? Well, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals doesn’t think that’s the case; they have upheld a lower court decision that a major Maryland school district does not have to allow parents to opt their children out of overt LGBTQ curriculum in the schools.

These are, by the way, K-5 kids. That’s right. Kindergarten to fifth grade.

Maryland’s largest school district does not have to allow parents to opt their K-5 children out of classes and books that discuss LGBTQ topics like sexuality and gender, at least for now, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday.

The 2-1 ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court decision denying a preliminary injunction on the basis that the parents had not shown how the policy – initiated by the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) board – would violate their children’s First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.

The parents had argued that refusal to provide an opt-out from their children’s exposure to LGBT-themed books and related discussions violates federal and state law.

It’s hard to see how this isn’t a First Amendment issue — that amendment and the 14th Amendment’s extension of the Bill of Rights to state governments — given that these people’s children are now forced to sit through material that is in direct contradiction to their religious views. 

But there’s an even larger issue here.

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Specifically: In what alternate universe does it make sense to teach this stuff to elementary school kids — especially to kindergartners? Shouldn’t they be teaching kids at this age how to read, write, do arithmetic, and maybe some entry-level history and civics?

Here are some of the materials mentioned:

Some of the book titles include “The Pride Puppy,” “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding,” and “Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope.”

Why? Why should any K-5 child be exposed to anything of this sort? It doesn’t even really matter if it’s LGBTQ material or anything else overtly sexual; there’s no reason whatsoever to make this part of a K-5 school program. And, yes, it would be just as objectionable if the titles were “The Alpha Male Puppy,” “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding Night with Aunt Sue,” or “Born Ready: The True Story of a Man Named Casanova.” This kind of material has no place in elementary schools, other than to push an agenda, which these educators are trying to do — and to which these parents rightly objected.

I do remember when our eastern Iowa schools, in the mid-’70s, timidly approached the subject of sex education, which then was already hotly debated. I remember when we were freshmen in junior high school, one afternoon, the boys and girls (that being all we had back then) were separated, and we got some lessons on personal hygiene — not sex — on why it’s important to keep yourself clean, how puberty brings chemical changes to one’s body that makes a difference in hygiene. The next year, we got a similar, sexually segregated class on birth control, again in one afternoon. Parents, as I recall, were free to opt their kids out. 

But now, in Maryland, kindergartners are exposed to LGBTQ materials whether the parents like it or not. I could make an argument for our long-ago classes, especially with the opt-out option; there is no good argument for the Maryland agenda. We can hope that these parents will be casting an eye at that district’s next school board elections, and perhaps finding some candidates who might bring a little sanity back to the K-5 program.

Here again, we have a great argument for taking the government out of education altogether. In a completely privatized system, parents who want their kids educated on LGBTQ issues and so forth would be free to do so, and in some places (like, presumably, this Maryland district), schools would spring up to fill that need. Parents who want their children educated in a Christian school would likewise be free to do so; ditto for parents who may prefer to send their kids to a school pushing a hard course in mathematics, logic, and STEM materials. A thousand flowers would bloom, and people would, of necessity, have to deal with the consequences of their own choices — not the choices of activists on government-run school boards. 

This ruling will almost certainly be appealed, and may well go to the Supreme Court. We can only hope for some sanity out of any resulting decision.