The Maryland Court of Appeals has ruled that parents do not have the right to opt their children out of LGBTQ+ curriculum in public schools. The state’s highest court rejected a challenge to Montgomery County’s “Promoting Respect for Differences in Human Sexuality” program, which was established in 2019 after the county adopted the nation’s first openly LGBTQ-inclusive sex education policy.
The court found that the right to direct the upbringing of one’s children is “limited in the face of important public interests” and observed that “the General Assembly of Maryland has determined that teaching public school students respect for differences in sexual orientation is an important public interest.” The court determined that parents do not have the right to opt their children out of the curriculum, and noted that the curriculum is “nonconfessional” and not mandatory.
The case was brought by a group of parents who argued that the curriculum was “religiously objectionable.” The ruling serves as an important reminder that parents’ rights to determine their child’s upbringing are not absolute, and that the state may still take incidental burdens into consideration. Furthermore, the ruling emphasizes the importance of inclusive education in public schools.