Parents from religious groups in Maryland accuse public schools of engaging in a “clear indoctrination” with their efforts to obtain a legal leeway to allow their children to opt out of controversial lessons featuring LGBTQ+ content that go against their religious teachings about family and gender ideology.
The outcry comes barely a month after a Maryland court ruled against the parents’ will to participate in shaping their children’s education and moral values as per their religious practices by allowing them to opt their children out of lessons inconsistent with their religious teachings.
However, the court ruled that the parents lacked a “fundamental right” to disrupt public education. Furthermore, Judge Deborah Boardman denied the parents a preliminary injunction they sought, saying the parents (Plaintiff) failed to establish their claims. The temporary injunction would allow them to opt their children out of some lessons in this new school term that began on August 28, 2023.
With the parents’ efforts to have their children legally exempted from lessons and content that contradict their “sincerely held” religious doctrine proving futile, at least at the moment, a Muslim father says Public Schools in Montgomery County are holding their children “hostage.”
Kareem Monib, a dad to four sons, has been an iconic figure in the push for the preservation of religious values and tradition and the protection of religious students in Montgomery County from the progressive ideology about human sexuality, family, and gender, which is inconsistent with widely-shared religious values.
Having lived in Maryland for 20 years, the 45-year-old father began actively engaging the local community in March when the Maryland House of Delegates voted to legalize the use of state funding to pay for “gender-affirming treatments.”
According to Monib, such treatments were “gender-mutilating surgery.” Concerned about the happenings, he co-founded a new organization, the Coalition of Virtue, with his family and friends to “promote virtue in society” based on Islamic traditions.
The Fight for a Common Goal and Shared Values
The Coalition of Virtue organization works with other faith communities, such as Christian and Jewish communities, to advocate for parents’ right to opt-out students from sexuality and gender lessons.
“One thing I’ve learned from this is that if people of faith do get together, it’s actually quite easy, and it’s quite powerful, and it’s something that I think should have been done a long time ago,” Monib told Fox News.
In June, Monib and parents from Jewish and Christian communities organized an inter-faith rally attended by 250 parents at the front of the Montgomery County school board to push for the reinstatement of the parent’s right to exempt their children from a curriculum on sexuality and gender.
Monib termed this request for exemption extension to other lessons featuring LGBTQ+ content as a “small ask,” given that schools in Maryland allow parents and guardians to view all the instructional materials before use and allow them to exempt their children from particular or all “Family Life and Human Sexuality” classes inconsistent with their social and religious values.
“This issue touches on the two most important things in our lives: our religion and our children,” Monib told Fox News, adding that nothing is more important than having their children brought up according to their religion.
The struggle of parents to have their religious students in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) exempted from specific lessons that go against their will and religion is a clear indication of how parents find themselves in a precarious situation when pushing to influence what their children are taught in public schools, especially when it comes to gender, human sexuality, family, and marriage.
However, parents in Montgomery County are not alone in the struggle, as parents from other districts also voice their discomfort with the inclusive Curriculum. In January, a mother was shocked to discover that their 15-year-old transgender daughter identified as a male in school and even used male pronouns without their knowledge.
Surprisingly, the school did not inform her of the gender transition for six months, with the teachers even allowing their child to use male washrooms. Even though they accepted their child’s new gender, it wasn’t without questions.
Backlashes Amid Push for Reinstatements of an “Opt-out” Option
The Coalition of Virtue’s push for exempting students from religious backgrounds from the gender ideology-based curriculum has encountered several backlashes, including the latest court ruling that denied parents such right and the consequent rejection of a temporary injunction.
The MCPS board also rejected parents’ exemption requests. MCPS Communications Director Christopher Cram told Fox News that the district “cannot accommodate” parents’ requests to exempt their children from the required curriculum instruction or use of instructional materials due to religious or any other basis of objection.
Cram also added that the exemption provided under Maryland law for parents to opt out of the Family Life and Human Sexuality Unit of instruction does not extend to the English Language Arts Curriculum. Cram added that MCPS is mandated to include instructional materials reflecting the “diversity of the local and global community,” including diverse gender identities and sexual orientations in line with the Board of Education Policy.
By including diverse genders and sexual orientations, the policy goes against many religious principles, including Islam, which relies on male and female genders for marriage and inheritance laws. As such, children will have difficulties understanding their religion and the religious principles of marriage, making it a ‘clear indoctrination,’” says Monib.
Monib also refuted claims that some Muslim parents work with “White supremacists,” as Kristin Mink, a local Montgomery County city councilwoman, claimed. He argued that the gender ideology taught in schools across the United States contradicts religious beliefs and defies logic and scientific facts, terming it a “catastrophe on even an academic level.”
Despite the challenges members of the Coalition of Virtue face in pushing for the right to exempt their children from misleading teachings, Monib reiterates their commitment to the cause, with religious and legal scholars skeptical about judges’ decisions. An amicus brief by religious and legal scholars asserted that parents have the right to direct the religious upbringing of their children, terming the MCPS decision as “indirect coercion.”
Meanwhile, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is arguing a case on behalf of religious Christian and Muslim parents hoping to get their exemption request granted.
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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.