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Federal Court Backs Maryland School Board in LGBTQ+ Curriculum Dispute



Clear Facts

  • A federal court upheld a Maryland school district policy that prevents parents from opting their K-5 children out of LGBTQ+ curriculum.
  • The court’s decision backed an earlier ruling, rejecting the claim of religious parents that the policy infringed upon their rights to free exercise of religion and to direct their children’s education.
  • Parents, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, argued that the curriculum was not age-appropriate and contravened their faith’s teachings on identity and sexuality.

On Wednesday, a federal court bolstered a Maryland school district policy. This policy, introduced by the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) board in March 2023, disallows parents from excusing their elementary-age children from learning about gender identity and sexuality.

In a closely contested 2-1 panel decision, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit backed a lower court’s ruling. It dismissed the plea of religious parents who sought to block the policy, contending that it encroached on their rights to religious freedom and to guide their children’s education.

Judge G. Steven Agee, an appointee of President George W. Bush, penned the majority opinion. He wrote, “At this early stage, however, given the Parents’ broad claims, the very high burden required to obtain a preliminary injunction, and the scant record before us, we are constrained to affirm the district court’s order denying a preliminary injunction.”

Parents of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faiths, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, were the protagonists in the case. They argued vehemently that the district’s denial of their request to exclude their young children from participation in the LGBTQ+-themed curriculum infringed upon their rights to bring up their children guided by their faith and its teachings on identity and sexuality. The parents also posited that the material was inappropriate for children of such tender age.

Books such as The Pride Puppy, Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, and Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope are part of the K-5 curriculum. Notably, The Pride Puppy prods “the three and four-year-old audience … to look for items such as “[drag] king,” “leather,” “lip ring,” “[drag] queen,” and “underwear,” as per Agee’s opinion.

The parents also highlighted that the district had issued guidelines for teachers and staff on how to handle concerns and questions about the pro-LGBTQ+ content from students.

However, despite the parents’ arguments, the panel concluded that “simply hearing about other views does not necessarily exert pressure to believe or act differently than one’s religious faith requires.”

Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum, Jr., voiced a dissenting opinion. He believed that the district court ruling should have been overturned and the school district’s policy blocked. “The parents have shown the board’s decision to deny religious opt-outs burdened these parents’ right to exercise their religion and direct the religious upbringing of their children by putting them to the choice of either compromising their religious beliefs or foregoing a public education for their children,” Quattlebaum wrote.

Eric Baxter, a senior counsel and vice president at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, expressed the parents’ disappointment with the decision. He clarified that parents are not seeking to ban the books from schools, but simply want the opportunity for their children to opt out. “We understand that there are different parents who have different perspectives,” Baxter said. “But all parents should have the right to decide if something is inappropriate for their own child and to remove their child from the classroom in those circumstances.”


Baxter confirmed plans to appeal the case to the Supreme Court. The case is Mahmoud v. McKnight, No. No. 23-1890 U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Let us know what you think, please share your thoughts in the comments below.




  1. Jeanne Black

    May 22, 2024 at 6:59 pm

    You should have pulled your babies out of public school the minute this disgusting, ungodly curriculum was introduced into your schools!! There are homeschool co-ops that use the proper curriculum and don’t leave God out.

    • Eleanor Elaine King

      May 23, 2024 at 8:59 am

      I agree with Jeannie.

  2. Jose T

    May 22, 2024 at 7:51 pm

    If you care anything for your children, you need to move! I lived in an area that was similar, but not as bad, and they pulled the rainbow crap there also. I sold, moved West to a red state, now our days are relaxed, fun and peaceful. We don’t have the “problem people”, we have normal people that have common sense. We have virtually no crime, neighbors look out for each other. Perfect? But pretty darn close. This group of people will never give up and now the feds are backing them wherever they go.

  3. Paul Schaeffer

    May 22, 2024 at 8:13 pm

    The problem here is not the subject matter, but the approach to it. Kids can deal with facts if they are presented fairly and in an unbiased manner. It is the nature of these issues which makes them of special interest to advocacy groups. People who advocate for homosexuality, gay marriage, gender changing chemicals and surgeries, pedophilia pederasty, and other socially unaccepted sexualities believe them to be basic human rights which should be protected, accepted and practiced. I disagree (especially with respect to gender transitioning, pedophilia and pederasty, but I really do not care what consenting adults do in private. I dissaprove of the sexual abuse of children and the sexualization of children. I think the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals got it wrong. Parents should have the right of substantial input on these issues and the Panel should have provided guidance on how these issues should be taught or allowed parents to opt out their children.

  4. Judie

    May 22, 2024 at 8:58 pm

    the panel concluded that “simply hearing about other views does not necessarily exert pressure to believe or act differently than one’s religious faith requires.” Such a bold statement makes me wonder what other “views” are the youngsters hearing. I rather suspect that, when it comes to the other “views”, suddenly everyone is screaming about “separation of church and state.” (Which does not mean at all what everyone currently seems to think it means…) Being fed stories about children acting like they’re having fun with the whole LGBTQ+ world is absolutely going to pique their curiosity to want to learn more about that world. The courts and the school board may not think that this is pressure but for these young children, who have no other frame of reference, the pressure is definitely there and there is nothing to balance it out.

  5. Michael J Soucier

    May 22, 2024 at 9:13 pm

    I would have pulled my kids and moved to another state. would not put up with this.

  6. vladimir cicha

    May 23, 2024 at 11:57 pm

    Big surorise how many people are even willing to discuss this disgusting matter””

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