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Maryland school district: Parents of preschoolers and elementary students can’t opt out of LGBTQ readings

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“We are just asking for what is fair and equitable and our own constitutional right to be able to have religious freedom and opt-out of something that goes against not only my Christian beliefs, but also the Jewish religion, the Muslims. There’s so many people who are not okay with this.”

–ALLIE ALTOBELLI, PARENT

Maryland’s largest school district will not allow parents to opt their children out of curriculum teaching children in grades pre-K and up about changing their gender and homosexuality.


Quick Facts


Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) recently sent parents an email informing them that their children would be required to sit through LGBTQ-inclusive teachings. The school will not allow parents to opt out or even inform them of what the students are being taught.

MCPS said in its March 23 email,

“MCPS expects all classrooms to be inclusive and safe spaces for students, including those who identify as LGBTQ+ or have family members in the LGBTQ+ community. A broad representation of personal characteristics within curricular or instructional materials promotes this desired outcome. Therefore, as with all curriculum resources, there is an expectation that teachers utilize these inclusive lessons and texts with all students…Students and families may not choose to opt out of engaging with any instructional materials, other than ‘Family Life and Human Sexuality Unit of Instruction’’ which is specifically permitted by Maryland law.  As such, teachers will not send home letters to inform families when inclusive books are read in the future.”

MCPS released an LGBT-inclusive book list last year. The list shows that in preschool children are to be taught from “Pride Puppy,” a book that teaches words like intersex and drag king. Pre-K teachers were also given a language guide defining LGBT terms for children provided by the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign, including cisgender, gender binary, transgender, and pansexual. Kindergarteners will read a book about a gay wedding.

At that time the district claimed that there were no plans to require children to read the books and the books would not be scheduled for use until parents were told. A presentation given to employees showed that the statement was never accurate. A portion of the presentation labeled “Responding to Caregivers/Community Questions” had two example questions staff might be asked: “Why can’t I opt out of this?” and “Can I keep my child home?”

Neither suggested answer mentioned a way for parents to opt out. Staff were told to answer, that unlike in sex education class, the readings were about diversity and not anatomy so parents could not opt out.

In addition, the district asserted that “No child who does not agree with or understand another student’s, gender, identity or expression, or their sexuality identity is asked to change how they feel about it.”

That also was not true. A sample question to staff posed by a hypothetical student said, “That’s weird, he can’t be a boy if was born a girl. What body parts do they have?”

Staff are told to respond,

“That comment is hurtful; we shouldn’t use negative words to talk about peoples’ identities. Sometimes when we learn information that is different from what we always thought, it can be confusing and hard to process. When we are born, people make a guess about our gender and label us ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ based on our body parts. Sometimes they’re right, and sometimes they’re wrong. Our body parts do not decide our gender. Our gender comes from inside — we might feel different than what people tell us we are. We know ourselves best.”

Parents are pushing back by asking that they be allowed to opt out of these readings for their children.

Allie Altobelli, a parent with children at MCPS, said that parents are not asking for the books to be removed from the schools, only that they be allowed to choose for their child not to read them. She stated:

“We are just asking for what is fair and equitable and our own constitutional right to be able to have religious freedom and opt-out of something that goes against not only my Christian beliefs, but also the Jewish religion, the Muslims. There’s so many people who are not okay with this.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Montgomery County Muslim Council have also spoken against requiring all students to read the books. CAIR authored a petition calling for an opt-out policy, as well as parental notice. The petition reads:

“By introducing sexually-themed lessons and materials as part of the school curriculum without advance parental notice, an opt-out option or another reasonable religious accommodation, MCPS is violating the rights of parents and guardians, and undermining Maryland state law, which requires parents or guardians to have the option to remove their children from ‘Family Life and Human Sexuality’ content.”

Montgomery County Muslim Council President Asif Husain added, “We’re trying to be respectful of these groups and their rights, but at the same time, we’re saying our rights need to be represented based off of our belief systems.”

MCPS’s dedication to LGBTQ causes actually goes beyond the curriculum, such as having a Twitter account called LGBTQ at MCPS, as well as a resources Web page with “helpful information for LGBTQ+ students, staff, and parents.”

And the school’s efforts are having an effect. From 2019-2022, MCPS reported a 582 percent increase in students who reported that they are gender-nonconforming. During the 2019-2020 school year, 35 students reported being gender nonconforming, but that number has increased each year since. During the 2021-2022 school year, for example, 239 students said they were gender-nonconforming.

MCPS is a taxpayer-funded public school system that isn’t just tolerating LGBT issues — it’s pushing them. When parents object to their children being taught this highly sexualized and inappropriate propaganda, they are told that they cannot exercise parental judgment for their own children because the MCPS doesn’t think it’s “tolerable” for parents to believe that three-, four, and five-year old children are too young to learn about gender transitions and drag queens.

This is unacceptable. If a parent does not want their child to learn about sexual topics or something that violates their religious beliefs, they have the right to opt their child out of those readings and teachings. MCPS’s actions are a gross violation of the Establishment Clause as they are instituting a state-mandated ideology that is being forced on children — even going so far as to tell them that their beliefs are wrong if they disagree with the state.

In Matthew 18:5-7, Jesus taught about the innocence of children and how one must humble himself as a child in order to be saved, explaining:

“‘And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. ‘Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!”

MCPS is placing stumbling blocks in front of children, teaching them lies that will lead them to sin. This is made clear by the school’s own numbers, which show children are being increasingly indoctrinated into rejecting their God-created biological sex and embracing a delusion.

The Bible commands parents to protect their children from those intent on harming them. As such, they must stand up for their children and shield them from this dangerous and tyrannical ideology. Unfortunately, given the attitude of woke school boards and administrators who have lost sight of their mission to teach academics and to defer to parents on issues of morality and religious upbringing, that probably means getting their children out of public schools like MCPS altogether.


Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.


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