Mahmoud v. McKnight

September 8, 2023

Summary of facts: The Montgomery County Board of Education (MCBOE) introduced storybooks into its language arts program intended to teach children that people can change the sex they were born with and that sexual relationships between people of the same sex are normal, valid, and acceptable. Maryland state law permits parents to exempt their children from sex education classes, but MCBOE argues that this right to “opt out” does not apply to the storybooks because they have woven them into the language arts curriculum. A group of Muslim and Christian parents sued in federal district court, arguing that MCBOE is violating their constitutional rights to religious freedom and to direct the upbringing of their children. The court denied the parents’ motion for temporary restraining order, holding that parents have no right to exempt their children from lessons in sexual orientation and gender identity. The parents appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

RFI’s position: The religious law of both Muslims and Jews commands parents to dictate the religious and moral instruction of their children. The Montgomery County Board of Education’s new storybooks initiative discusses issues surrounding family life and human sexuality, and encourages students to question sexuality and gender identity. Given that these issues are often infused with religious significance, the School Board’s decision to deny parents notice of when the new books will be used and refuse to accommodate religious objectors’ reasonable opt-out requests, is a clear burden on parents’ obligation to educate their children in accordance with their religious ideals.

Read the amicus brief here.