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4th Circuit Rules Montgomery County Parents Cannot Opt Children Out of LGBTQ-specific Lessons

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A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled a group of Montgomery County parents cannot “opt out” their children from classes in which lessons or books on LGBTQ-related topics are taught.

The parents filed their lawsuit in May 2023. An American Civil Liberties Union press release notes the lawsuit challenges Montgomery County Public Schools’ policy that “mandates the inclusion of literature with LGBTQ+ characters as part of the ELA (English and Language Arts) curriculum, aiming to promote understanding and acceptance among students.” “Although the district originally allowed parents to opt their children out of some ELA lessons, it rescinded the opt-out policy because the number of requests grew too difficult to manage, student absenteeism soared, and it created a stigmatizing environment for students who are LGBTQ or have LGBTQ family members, undermining the purpose of the inclusivity requirement,” said the ACLU.

U.S. District Judge Deborah L. Boardman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland ruled against the parents. The 4th U.S.

Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., upheld the decision. “We’re talking about books like ‘Pride Puppy,’ which is light-hearted and affirming,” said ACLU of Maryland Legal Director Deborah Jeon in a press release. “During a time of intensifying calls to ban books and limit access to information about LGBTQ+ people and identities, this ruling in support of inclusion in education matters.” Story courtesy of the Washington Blade via the National LGBTQ Media Association.

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