Maryland school system runs into Muslim opposition to LGBTQ curriculum

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

A large public school system in Maryland recently announced a contentious LGBTQ curriculum for students starting in pre-K, which move was met with immediate criticism from Muslim parents and parents of other faiths and religions.

Parents filed complaints with Montgomery County Public Schools to allow them to opt out their children from the curriculum. Weirdly enough, the school district removed the opt out option in March when parents expressed religious concerns about the curriculum. Christian and Muslim parents resorted to suing the school district because the district is allegedly not respecting their constitutional rights.

Yet the district’s Board of Education dismissed parents’ concerns about the curriculum. Board chairwoman Lynne Harris claimed that these parents of promoting hatred toward the LGBTQ community, “Saying that a kindergartner 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, in response to testimonies by parents, also said that “ignorance and hate does exist in our community.”

Parent Wael El Koshairi told the board during the board’s public meeting, “It’s best left in the hands of parents who know how to introduce these ideas to their children and when their children are really ready to be introduced to these ideas!” El Koshairi’s comments were echoed by another parent, Tewodros Shume, who said, “I’m telling you! Board of Education! Members! You will be regretting what you’re doing to this future young generation! If you’re truly about diversity, equity and fairness, work with parents.”

It also did not help that a county councilmember, Kristin Mink, compared Muslim parents to white supremacists in a June public meeting. Mink said, “This issue has, unfortunately, put some Muslim families on the same side of an issue as white supremacists and outright bigots.” Mink later issued a lackluster apology “for the hurt” her comparison created and excused it as “remarks were focused on promoting inclusion.”

Her statement read, “I regret that although my remarks were focused on promoting inclusion, they created an opportunity for misunderstanding and mischaracterization. I apologize for the hurt that this caused in the Muslim community.”

Reportedly, the curriculum includes books on sexual orientation and gender identity. There is a book on same-sex romance on a playground and the guide encourages teachers to explore romantic feelings. If a child does not comply, the teacher is instructed to tell the child that they are choosing “hurtful” behavior.

There are also resource guides which tell teachers to teach children that one can guess gender based on body parts.

Based on local news media coverage, it appears that the pro-opt out parents far outnumbered the anti-opt out counter protesters. It appeared that fewer than a dozen LGBTQ protesters showed up, compared to the several dozen pro-opt out parents who showed up for the protest.

A contributor to Deseret News noted that governments at all levels are failing to recognize something called “procedural fairness.” Meaning, the government should demonstrate neutrality toward religion instead of hostility toward religions. Recent cases that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which involved private Christian businesses like Masterpiece Cakeshop and 303 Creative, highlighted how government entities should not be openly hostile towards religious citizens because it violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.