Anti-Gay Parents Can’t Ban Books, Says Court

A federal appeals court has rejected parents’ claims that their religious liberty rights were violated by the use of books referencing homosexuality in the Massachusetts public schools.

A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 31 that books that feature same-sex couples and marriage could be used in the public school classrooms.

Two sets of parents sued the Lexington School District in 2006, after the superintendent and other school officials informed the parents that they would not be notified before teachers were to use books they found offensive to their religious beliefs. The parents’ lawsuit argued that the Lexington public school officials were attempting to indoctrinate their children.

The 1st Circuit panel unanimously rejected the parents’ arguments and upheld the schools’ use of Molly’s Family, King and King and Who’s In A Family?

“The heart of the plaintiffs’ free exercise claim is a claim of ‘indoctrination’: that the state has put pressure on their children to endorse an affirmative view of gay marriage and thus undercut the parents’ efforts to inculcate their children with their own opposing religious views,” noted the circuit court panel in Parker v. Hurley.

The court continued, “Public schools are not obliged to shield individual students from ideas which potentially are religiously offensive, particularly when the school imposes no requirement that the students agree with or affirm those ideas, or even participate in discussions about them.”