19 Democrat state attys. gen. oppose giving kids opt-out option from LGBT books


More than a dozen Democrat state attorneys general have sided with a major school district as it continues to face litigation for requiring students beginning in preschool to read books promoting LGBT ideology without allowing parents to opt their children out of such instruction. 

In a brief submitted to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit last week, 19 Democrat attorneys general urged the federal court to uphold a decision from the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland rejecting the request of religious parents who reside in the Montgomery County School District to have the ability to opt out of lessons using LGBT-related books. 

The attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington signed on to the brief. The Democrat attorneys general have come down on the opposite side of the issue in Mahmoud v. McKnight. Twenty-three of their Republican counterparts have written their own brief asking the court to rule in favor of the parents. 

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“The county’s policy of not allowing opt-outs does not burden students’ or their parents’ free exercise of religion,” the Democrat attorneys' general brief argues. “In integrating LGBTQ+-inclusive books into its language arts curriculum, Montgomery County is not engaging in religious coercion. Students are not required to undertake or refrain from any religious practice. Nor are they (or parents) required to affirm or profess adherence to any view.”

The attorneys general also rejected the idea that the district’s use of LGBT-related books in its curriculum constituted indoctrination: “The County’s decision not to allow opt-outs does not amount to indoctrination running counter to any religious beliefs. In integrating LGBTQ+-inclusive books into its language arts curriculum, the County is not telling students to embrace any specific judgment regarding the identities or relationships they depict. It also is not telling students that their (or their families’) religious beliefs are wrong.”

The litigation surrounding the district’s LGBT-related curriculum dates back to May, when parents from several different religions filed a lawsuit against the district, which is the largest in the state. Two of the plaintiffs, Tamer Mahmoud and Enas Barakat, are Muslims with one child in 10th grade and the other in second grade.

Roman Catholic plaintiff Jeff Roman and his Ukrainian Orthodox wife, Svitlana, are the parents of a second grader in the district. Catholic plaintiffs Chris and Melissa Persak have two elementary school-age daughters in the district.

The lawsuit contends that the “Pride Storybooks” are geared toward elementary school children and “promote one-sided transgender ideology, encourage gender transitioning, and focus excessively on romantic infatuation—with no parental notification or opportunity to opt out.” It also highlights the plaintiffs’ belief that “the Pride Storybooks are being used to impose an ideological view of family life and sexuality that characterizes any divergent beliefs as ‘hurtful.’”

Additionally, the complaint cited the failure to allow parents to opt out of the curriculum as a violation of the district’s “Guidelines for Respecting Religious Diversity,” which require the district to “accommodate requests from students, or requests from parents/guardians on behalf of their students, to be excused from specific classroom discussions or activities that they believe would impose a substantial burden on their religious beliefs.” 

The guidelines also call on the district to “accommodate objections from students or their parents/guardians to a particular reading assignment on religious grounds by providing an alternative selection that meets the same lesson objectives.” The plaintiffs characterized the absence of an opt-out policy enabling students to refrain from reading pride storybooks as violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as well as Maryland state law.

The Democrat attorneys general disagree with this analysis, writing that while “Maryland’s regulations require school systems to establish procedures allowing students to opt out of “instruction regarding family life and human sexuality objectives,” “that requirement refers specifically to the Family Life and Human Sexuality component of Maryland’s comprehensive health education curriculum outlined in the same regulatory section.”  

According to the attorneys general, “the County’s use of books featuring LGBTQ+ characters in its language arts curriculum is not ‘instruction regarding family life and human sexuality objectives’; it is an effort to underscore for all students that LGBTQ+ people exist and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.” 

The Mahmoud v. McKnight lawsuit comes as the exposure of young children to LGBT ideology and sexual content at schools has led to national attention and outrage. Last year, Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a measure banning public school officials from discussing matters related to sexual orientation and gender identity with students in kindergarten through third grade.

Additional legislation approved earlier this year extended that ban through grade 12 unless the content is part of a health lesson that parents can opt their children out of. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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