The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

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The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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May 21, 2024

Maryland judge denies injunction in lawsuit against MCPS over LGBTQ+ books

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The teachers — Argyle Middle School teacher Hajur El-Haggan, Westland Middle School teacher Anike Robinson and Takoma Park Middle School teacher Angela Wolf — had previously been placed on administrative leave for expressing alleged antisemitism regarding the Israel-Hamas war on social media and within an internal email signature.

On Thursday, August 24, a state judge ruled that parents cannot currently opt their children out of Montgomery County Public Schools lessons involving books with LGBTQ characters.

This action comes after three families sued the school board, claiming the no-opt-out policy violates their and their children’s First Amendment right to freedom of religion and the parent’s substantive due process under the 14th Amendment of Maryland law. 

The parents requested a preliminary injunction that would mandate the school board to give them notice when teachers read LGBTQ books in class and the ability to opt out of the book readings. Maryland U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Boardman denied the injunction, stating in her ruling that the parents failed to prove how reading these books causes immediate damage to their children and that the school board can uphold their policy. 

“The plaintiffs are not likely to suffer imminent irreparable harm, and the balance of the equities and the public interest favor denying an injunction to avoid undermining the School Board’s legitimate interests in the no-opt-out policy,” Boardman said. 

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According to court documents, the books targeted by the injunction include “Pride Puppy,” which details a dog’s journey through a pride parade, and “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding,” which features a soon-to-be-married gay couple. The parents plan to appeal the decision, and the lawsuit will continue in court. 

Two of the six plaintiffs, Enas Baraket and Tamer Mahmoud, argued that schools not providing an opt-out policy conflicts with their personal religious beliefs in a declaration submitted to the court.  

“There are detrimental spiritual consequences from letting authoritative figures such as school teachers teach… principles concerning sexual and gender ethics that contravene faith,” Baraket and Mahmoud wrote. 

In March of this year, the defendants — the Montgomery County Board of Education — announced that parents would no longer receive advance notice of teachers reading the storybooks in class, as well as being unable to opt their children out. MCPS first incorporated these stories into its English language arts curriculum to reflect the diversity of the school community.

MCPS responded to the ruling on August 9, writing that they remain “committed to cultivating an inclusive and welcoming environment and creating opportunities where all students see themselves in curriculum materials.” 

A parent with a fifth-grade student at an MCPS elementary school disagrees with the lawsuit against MCPS. 

“Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but when you opt into a school you have to conform with its rules,” the parent said. “I don’t think a lawsuit is necessary.” 

MCPS Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight expressed relief over the successful outcome of the lawsuit. 

“We are grateful and happy that we were able to be successful in the lawsuit,” McKnight said in an interview with MCM. “Our charge is to be able to continue to implement the policy.”

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About the Contributor
Ella Werkman
Ella Werkman, News Writer
Grade 11 Why did you join the Black and White? To grow as a writer, and learn new things that I didn't know before. What is your favorite board game? Scattergories  

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    MarySep 27, 2023 at 5:18 pm

    Absurd I will take my kids to a private and religious school

    Reply