Muslim and Christian parents showed up in force at a Maryland school board meeting to protest a new policy that would prevent parents from opting their children out of reading LGBT books in school.
The group of parents and other demonstrater protested outside the Montgomery County Public Schools headquarters in Rockville, Maryland, as the board was set to discuss the rule change.
The parental rights protesters appeared to be majority Muslim in video clips.
The protesters chanted “Not Your Children,” “Protect Our Children,” and “Religious Freedom Now” and carried signs reading, “Restore Opt Out” and “Family Rights.”
The demonstration was organized by the parental rights groups Moms for Liberty and Family Rights for Religious Freedom.
A much smaller counter-protest group carried rainbow LGBT flags and supported scrapping the parental opt-out option as one sign read, “Keep MCPS Free From Hate.”
The angry Muslim and Christian parents in the video say they have hundreds of demonstrators against the LGBT policy.
According to video footage, the 30 parental rights demonstrators entered the school board meeting, and then 30 pro-LGBT content activists entered the building, passing by their opponents who shouted, “Protect our children!” as they passed, according to video footage.
During the board meeting, a young girl wearing a hijab addressed the board.
“Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right that protects the conscience of all people. It allows us to think, express, and act upon what we deeply believe,” the girl said.
“The issue of gender and sexuality are influenced by our faith, and we should not be caricatured as intolerant.”
“I respectfully request the restoration of the opt-out option at MCPS,” she said.
One Muslim mother spoke in favor of getting rid of the opt-out option, saying, “Gender-fluid people have been part of Islamic societies from the beginning.”
Montgomery County Councilmember Kristin Mink also spoke at the school board meeting, saying, “This issue has unfortunately put some, not all, of course, some Muslim families on the same side of an issue as white supremacists and outright bigots. However, the folks I’ve talked to here today, I would not put in the same category as those folks, although it’s again complicated.”
The audience member called out “False!” at Mink’s comment referencing white supremacists.
Three families claim their First Amendment rights have been violated and are suing the Montgomery County Board of Education and Superintendent Monifa McKnight over getting rid of the opt-out option.
The lawsuit claims the LGBT children’s books “Love, Violet” and “Pride Puppy” were added to the curriculum.