Press Release

Religious parents fight sex and gender storybook mandate in court Muslims & Christians in Maryland ask to opt kids out of age-inappropriate storybooks

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information


WASHINGTON – A diverse group of religious parents in Maryland were in federal court today fighting for their ability to opt their children out of storybooks that push extreme ideology regarding gender and sexuality. In Mahmoud v. McKnight, the Montgomery County Board of Education took away parental notice and opt-outs for storybooks that advocate pride parades, gender transitioning, and pronoun preferences for kids as young as pre-kindergarten. Becket is supporting these Muslim, Catholic, and Orthodox parents who are fighting to restore their ability to raise their children consistent with their faith. 

The new “inclusivity” books were announced last fall for students in pre-K through eighth grade. However, instead of focusing on basic principles of respect and kindness, the books champion controversial ideology around gender and sex and focus on children’s romantic feelings. For example, one book tasks three and four-year-olds to search for images from a word list that includes “intersex flag,” “drag queen,” “underwear,” “leather,” and the name of a celebrated LGBTQ activist and sex worker. Another book advocates a child-knows-best approach to gender transitioning, telling students that a decision to transition doesn’t have to “make sense”; teachers are instructed to say doctors only “guess” when identifying a newborn’s sex anyway. The School Board revoked notice and opt-outs for these storybooks earlier this year, contrary to Maryland law and the Board’s policies and over the objection of their own elementary school principals. 

“Children deserve their parents’ guidance on how they learn about complex issues of gender identity, gender transitioning, and sexuality,” said Eric Baxter, vice president and senior counsel at Becket. “The School Board’s decision to cut parents out of these discussions prematurely destroys childhood innocence and wrongfully ignores the right of children to be guided by their own parents. The School Board should let kids be kids.”  

Soon after the School Board announced it would take away parental notice and opt-outs for the storybooks, a diverse coalition of religious parents, including Muslims, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians, sued the School Board in federal court. Despite faith differences, these parents believe the new storybooks are age-inappropriate, spiritually and emotionally damaging for kids and inconsistent with their religious beliefs. These parents fought in court today seeking to restore their ability to help their own children on such complex issues and put a stop to the School Board’s no notice, no opt-out policy.  

“Education works best when schools team up with parents to guide what children are learning in the classroom,” said Baxter. “We asked the court today to recognize that and protect the ability of every parent to raise their children in accordance with their beliefs and age-appropriateness.” 

A decision from the court is expected in the coming weeks.  

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby atmedia@becketlaw.orgor 202-349-7219.Interviews can be arranged in English, Mandarin, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish