An amicus brief filed Wednesday in federal appeals court argues a public school district in Maryland must notify parents of the “use and discussion of books designed to push the left’s gender and sexuality agenda” in its elementary schools.
The original lawsuit alleges the Montgomery County School Board authorized the use of more than 22 new LGBTQ books for kindergarten through 5th grade in district elementary schools in October 2022, but did not allow parents to opt their children out.
The brief argues a parental opt-out is required under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
The brief was filed by Advancing American Freedom (AAF), a nonprofit group founded by former Vice President Mike Pence, which “promotes and defends the successful policies of recent years that yielded unprecedented prosperity at home and restored America’s strength abroad, while elevating traditional American values.”
“It’s a modest request by parents,” General Counsel for AAF J. Marc Wheat said in a statement after filing the brief. “There is no demand for curriculum change, just parents who want to be told what schools are teaching their children.
“Parents get to have a say in what their children are learning and should have the freedom to opt out of the Far Left’s gender and sexual ideology curricula, being taught to young children.”
The U.S. District Court of Maryland ruled against the parents in the initial suit, citing the size of the district, which is the largest district in Maryland, and one of the largest in the country, with 209 schools and approximately 160,000 students.
However, AAF argues Maryland state law requires the district to allow parents to review “instructional materials to be used in the teaching of family life and human sexuality objectives,” asking for a reversal of the lower court’s decision.
AAF also alleges, if a student doesn’t understand the idea of transgenderism, “the teacher is prompted to tell students the following series of lies: ‘When we’re born, people make a guess about our gender … When someone’s transgender, they guessed wrong … Our body parts do not decide our gender … When someone tells us what our gender is, we believe them.’”
AAF also accuses the school board of telling parents they could keep their students out of school when the controversial materials are to be presented in lieu of opting out. However, the resulting absence will be considered unexcused.
These decisions ultimately led parents in the district to sue, claiming the new policies amount to a denial of their rights as parents.
AAF filed its brief in support of their effort to restore their constitutionally protected right to “direct the upbringing and education of children under their control.”
“The Board’s and schools’ denial of parents’ efforts to protect their children from fashionable sexual brainwashing of children is inconsistent with the fundamental, constitutionally recognized right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children and the right of parents to freely exercise their religious beliefs.”
In a public statement issued after the initial lawsuit was filed in May, the district stood behind the new policy, claiming the books are appropriate for elementary classrooms and affirming its dedication to inclusivity.
“Montgomery County Public Schools is committed to a safe and inclusive school environment where all students are engaged in learning with appropriate instructional materials and are active participants in the school community because they feel accepted and valued.”