Challenging Religious Beliefs: The Option to Exclude LGBT Curriculum in Education


Screenshot: WCCO – CBS Minnesota

St. Louis Park Public Schools in Minnesota are allowing parents to opt their children out of LGBT-related curriculum after six Muslim families requested an exemption for their children due to religious beliefs. According to Alpha News, two public interest law firms sent letters to the school district saying previous denials of opt-out requests violated the First Amendment and state law.

“We believe that we have a sacred obligation to teach the principles of our faith to our children without being undermined by the schools,” one of the mothers involved in the matter said. Another Somali mother said that one of the schools introduced books discussing gender identity and families with two fathers to third-grade students. “These books were introduced to our children without our knowledge or consent leaving us with no recourse to opt them out despite our sincere religious objection,” she said. Their complaints may very well have kicked in the door for other religious exemption arguments. State law in Minnesota requires schools to have procedures in place for parents to review instruction material and, if the parent objects, the district has to make “reasonable” arrangements for alternative instruction.

Several Somali mothers spoke at a St. Louis Park school board meeting in October. Initial reports suggested that only Muslim families would have the option to opt out, but the process has been opened up to any families who wish to not be involved in the LGBT curriculum. In response to the complaints made by the Muslim families, LGBT advocates argued that they should not be able to opt-out. Since the board meeting, the six families have reportedly successfully opted out of the LGBT curriculum.

The move by parents to force an exemption to LGBT curriculum in Minnesota schools comes just a couple of years after the Joe Biden administration attempted to define parents at school board meetings as domestic terrorists. The National School Boards Association (NSBA) coordinated with the White House and the Department of Justice (DOJ) over a controversial letter sent to President Biden making the domestic terrorist comparison. House Republicans later released documents provided by a whistleblower that showed that the FBI investigated parents critical of local school boards using “counterterrorism tools.”

Will these Muslim families be treated in the same manner?