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(LifeSiteNews) — Parents do not have a right to opt their children out of pro-LGBT public school lessons in Montgomery County, Maryland, according to a ruling issued May 17 by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) announced in March 2023 that it would mandate a list of LGBT reading materials for children in kindergarten through fifth grade as part of its English language arts curriculum. 

Among the listed books were “Prince and Knight,” a fairytale about a male knight and a prince who fall in love and get “married,” a book on 50 “LGBTQ+” historical figures titled “Rainbow Revolutionaries,” and the pro-transgender story “Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope.”

The district initially allowed parents to opt their children out of reading the books but soon reversed itself, asserting an “expectation that teachers utilize these inclusive lessons and texts with all students” in the name of fostering “inclusive and safe spaces for students.”

A group of parents sued, first being rejected in August 2023 then appealing to the Fourth Circuit. Nineteen left-wing state attorneys general filed an amicus brief siding with the district, while another 23 filed their own brief backing the parents.

Now, however, The Washington Stand reported that the Fourth Circuit rejected the parents’ bid for a preliminary injunction, claiming they did not meet the legal preconditions for obtaining a preliminary injunction.

“Considering (their) broad claim joined with the extremely limited record, we conclude the Parents have not shown a cognizable burden to support their free exercise claim,” Judge G. Steven Agee wrote for the majority. “As such, they have not shown a likelihood of succeeding on the merits. Accordingly, the district court did not err in denying them a preliminary injunction as to the free exercise claim.” He added that while the books’ content conflicted with religious teaching, “simply hearing about other views does not necessarily exert pressure to believe or act differently than one’s religious faith requires.”

Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. dissented, writing that, contrary to the majority’s reading of the relevant precedent, “interfering or burdening the exercise of religion is not limited to direct coercion,” and in fact “(w)hen a state ‘conditions receipt of an important benefit upon conduct proscribed by a religious faith, or where it denies such a benefit because of conduct mandated by religious belief, thereby putting substantial pressure on an adherent to modify his behavior and to violate his beliefs, a burden upon religion exists.’”

“The board’s refusal to grant the parents’ requests for religious opt-outs to instruction with the books the board required be used to promote diversity and inclusivity to the LGBTQ+ community forces the parents to make a choice – either adhere to their faith or receive a free public education for their children,” he added. “They cannot do both.”

Religious liberty firm Becket Law, which is representing the parents, says it will appeal the ruling. “The Board is unlawfully coming between parents and their kids and targeting them because of their religious beliefs about gender and sexuality,” Beckett says. “That violates the Board’s own policies, Maryland law, and the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court has held that children are not wards of the state, and that parents have the right to make key decisions about the education of their children on such critical matters concerning family life and human sexuality.”

The indoctrination of children with left-wing ideology on sexuality and other left-wing agenda items has long been a major concern in American public schools, from libraries to athletic and restroom policy to drag events to classroom materials to even socially “transitioning” troubled children without parental input. Many schools have also displayed hostility to the rights and employment of individual teachers who refuse to go along with such agendas, regardless of their treatment of or rapport with gender-confused students.