Christian parents won a lawsuit in Pennsylvania that reaffirmed their right to opt their children out of social-emotional learning (SEL) lessons.
“Pennsylvania protects parent’s religious beliefs and allows them to opt their children out of SEL curriculum,” Nick Barry, senior counsel at America First Legal who represented the plaintiffs, said in a press release. “School bureaucrats are now on notice that they can’t ignore parents’ requests because it might create some administrative difficulty or because they disagree with a parent’s religious beliefs.”
The lawsuit, filed in January, alleges the plaintiffs tried multiple times to remove their children from SEL lessons in the West Shore School District.
However, West Shore staff said the parents needed to cite a specific part of the curriculum that conflicted with their religious beliefs and refused to let them opt out.
After nearly a year of legal proceedings, a U.S. District Court ruled the school district violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments, state law, and its own policies.
As part of the settlement, the district also agreed to pay the plaintiffs $40,000 to cover legal fees.
“This settlement recognizes that parents have First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to direct the upbringing of their children,” America First Legal said. “Social Emotional Learning – like a Trojan Horse – allows all types of dangerous ideologies to secretly enter public school curriculums that could not get in through the front door.
“As our Nation’s schools fail to meet academic standards, they are increasingly opting to take valuable time to teach kids non-academic values that have always been specially reserved for parents to teach.”
SEL has become controversial nationwide with some states even proposing legislation to restrict it.
Arizona’s state superintendent even offers a grant to school districts that use alternative curriculum.