OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a coalition of 19 attorneys general in an amicus brief in support of a Maryland board of education’s policy that permits schools to incorporate LGBTQ+-inclusive books into language arts curriculum to reflect the diversity of the school community, and arguing that this exposure to such material does not violate the free exercise of religion. The Montgomery County Board of Education (MCBE) in Maryland is currently facing a challenge that the policy violates the free exercise of religion.
“All students deserve to be represented in the curriculum,” said Attorney General Bonta. “This type of policy allows for a fully inclusive environment for all students. At the California Department of Justice, we’ll continue to fight for the rights of LGBTQ+ students and all of our nation’s children.”
MCBE and its members, like other school authorities around the country, are charged with one of the most important functions of government — nurturing successive generations of children into capable citizens of a diverse but unified nation. In recognition of the paramount importance of this responsibility, courts have long afforded state and local governments significant discretion to craft school policies in order to best serve this goal, so long as they act within the constraints of federal law, including both the Constitution and federal antidiscrimination law. In the current case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, parents whose elementary-aged children attend Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) seek the ability to opt their children out of reading and discussing books with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer characters because the books’ messages contradict their sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage, human sexuality, and gender. Last school year, MCPS incorporated into its English language arts curriculum a collection of storybooks featuring LGBTQ characters in an effort to reflect the diversity of the school community.
In the amicus brief, the coalition asserts:
In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the amicus brief is available here.