A major Maryland school district is facing another lawsuit in an ongoing battle over parents’ rights.
The lawsuit, filed by America First Legal, claims Montgomery County Public Schools violated state laws and its own policies by undermining parents’ First Amendment rights.
The school board, superintendent, and several staff members who lead the MCPS Staff Pride group are all named as defendants.
“The rights of citizens to take part in the democratic process is paramount to the American system of government. Montgomery County School Board members, administrators, and staffers have decided that those rights are subsidiary to their ability to advocate for inappropriate instruction for children,” Ian Prior, senior advisor at America First Legal, said in a press release.
“They know that active public participation will clearly demonstrate that the community does not support the radical agenda and actions that are being forced down the throats of parents,” Prior added.
The controversy began last year when the school board announced the inclusion of LGBT books in MCPS classrooms.
Recent video footage even revealed an educator training fellow staff members to “disrupt gender binaries and cis-normative thinking” of students.
Many parents and residents of diverse faiths – including the plaintiffs – vocally disapproved and sought to opt their children out of such lessons.
However, the district refused to allow families this choice.
Lynn Harris, one of the school board members, even said that religious or family values amounted to hate.
“Saying that a kindergartener can’t be present when you read a book about a rainbow unicorn because it offends your religious rights or your family values or your core beliefs is just telling that kid, ‘Here’s another reason to hate another person,’” Harris said, according to the lawsuit.
Backlash from parents became so intense that the board severely restricted who could attend public meetings in June. Only pre-selected speakers and invited guests could attend.
The plaintiffs allege this action violated Maryland’s Open Meetings Act.
“[The MCPS board] deliberately and intentionally denied the Plaintiffs and others access to the open session meeting to prevent citizens from assembling to express their opposition to the viewpoints and actions of Defendents,” the suit reads.
Further, school staff blocked one of the plaintiffs from viewing and interacting with their LGBT social media account, despite district guidance to “not block users or delete comments.”
The plaintiff had criticized MCPS for recommending books about sex toys to students and refusing to allow parents to opt out of such content.