Muslim parents join Christians to fight grooming in Maryland schools

by WorldTribune Staff, June 8, 2023

Muslim and Christian parents in Montgomery County, Maryland are rallying together in an effort to stop a new school district policy that prevents them from having their children opt out of curriculum involving sexuality and gender ideology.

On June 6, about 50 parents and activists protested the new policy, with some carrying signs that read “family rights” and “restore the opt-out” while chanting “protect our children” and “religious freedom now.”

Parental and religious freedom rights advocates, including a group of Muslim parents protest a Maryland school system policy that removes parents’ authority to opt their children out of homosexual and transgender coursework. / The Religious Freedom Institute

“The hard-left came after the kids and Muslim parents aren’t having it,” Asra Nomani, author of the book “Woke Army“, said in a Twitter post covering the rally.

Under Maryland law, school districts are required to allow parents to opt out of coursework that deals with “family life and human sexuality.” The Montgomery County public school district decided in March that it does not consider reading materials that discuss subjects related to homosexuality, transgenderism, and other aspects of gender ideology to be a part of “family life and human sexuality instruction.”

For this reason, beginning on May 1, the school district no longer notifies parents of such material in the coursework and will not allow them to opt out.

Montgomery County Council member Kristin Mink told the school board that Muslim families who seek the right to opt out of curriculum that violate their religion are on the same side as white supremacists.

A Twitter user responded to Mink’s assertion, writing: “Are Muslim parents the same as white supremacists if they don’t want their girls to be taught that they can become boys? That sound you hear is the shattering of the paradigm that says Muslims have to bargain away their religion in exchange for political acceptance by people who think Islam is the equivalent of white supremacy.”

“We don’t want to be put aside as basically irrelevant,” Wael Elkoshairi, who leads Family Rights for Religious Freedom, told the Catholic News Agency (CNA).

CNA noted in a June 8 report that the Montgomery County school district has approved several books that discuss subjects related to homosexuality and transgenderism for students as young as 3- to 4-years-old. This includes a book called “Pride Puppy!”, which seeks to teach children the alphabet through a story about a homosexual pride parade and introduces them to words like “drag queen,” “leather,” and “zipper.” It also introduces them to Marsha B. Johnson, who was a drag queen, a gay rights activist, and, temporarily, a prostitute.

Last month, a Muslim family and a Christian family filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging the district violated Maryland law and their First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion by not allowing them to opt their children out of lessons that use Pride Storybooks, a series of children’s books from the Human Rights Campaign with gay and transgender themes.

“The School Board’s recent about-face strips away [a] long-standing protection of parental rights,” the lawsuit says. “This violates not just Maryland law and Board policy and practice but also the United States Constitution.”

The families are represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Eric Baxter, the organization’s vice president and senior counsel, ripped the school district’s policy in a statement: “Children are entitled to guidance from their own parents, who know and love them best, regarding how they’ll be introduced to complex issues concerning gender identity, transgenderism, and human sexuality. Forced, ideological discussions during story hour won’t cut it, and excluding parents will only hinder, not help, inclusivity.”

Family Rights for Religious Freedom began primarily with Muslim parents, but Elkoshairi said a lot of Christian groups have reached out to them and they are growing their coalition membership.

Lindsey Smith, a member of Moms for Liberty Montgomery County, which also took part in the event, told CNA that her organization teamed up with other parents “to rally with parents who are standing up for parental and religious rights to opt out of sexual orientation curriculum being used in English literature classes and social studies in pre-K and up.”

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