Muslim parents in Montgomery Co. opposing LGBTQ curriculum in schools point to principals’ concerns

Muslim residents in Montgomery County, Maryland, who seek to opt their children out of LGBTQ+ inclusive literary curriculum are pointing to a memo from elementary school principals to support their argument.

Muslim civil and religious rights groups held a news conference Tuesday to make a memo from November public that they said shows leaders of a union of principals telling school leaders their concerns about the content of some of the LGBTQ story books, possible religious bias in teacher discussion guides and a lack of teacher training.

“You can see that not only did we have reservations about what was being taught and in the discussions being led, but so did the principals in Montgomery County Public Schools and those were set forth in writing to the superintendent and Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education,” said Wael Elkoshairi, director of the group Family Rights for Religious Freedom. “All of those recommendations, all of those concerns were ignored as we have been ignored for the last three months.”

The memo uncovered by the groups was written on behalf of the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals elementary school chapter.

The memo said while the principals share the goal of allowing all students to see themselves and their families in their literature, there are concerns that some of the books are not appropriate for the intended age groups and, in one case, not appropriate at all for young students.

The elementary school principals’ memo also expresses concern about potential damage to school-community relations because some parents strongly support the LGBTQ material while others want their children removed from classrooms during the lessons. The principals also said that there has been inadequate teacher training and possible religious bias in teacher discussion guides.

The Council of American Islamic Relations said the principals’ memo was obtained in an open records request. The civil and religious rights groups are asking the county school system to restore the opt-out option that the county said in May it was revoking.

“We have been unable to meet with the superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools as parents. All of our communications to the Board of Education have been ignored and systematically been shut out of the process,” said Elkoshairi. “We’re basically being told ‘you do what we say, you have no right to speak on behalf of your children.’ And we do not think that this is fair and we will continue to fight for our rights and our religious beliefs in this great county.”

A spokesman for the county school system declined to comment on the principals’ memo made public by the Muslim groups.

“Out of respect for and the integrity of pending litigation before the U.S. District Court of Maryland, MCPS cannot comment at this time,” said Christopher Cram, director of the office of communications at Montgomery County Public Schools.

Cram also pointed out that the school system recently affirmed that it will use the LGBTQ books to advance inclusivity and it stands behind its decision to deny parents the right to opt their children out of LGBTQ instructions.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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