“Keeping Pornography Out of Schools is Not Book-Banning”

-The following article was submitted by Delegates Ryan Nawrocki & Kathy Szeliga (District 7A) and Lauren Arikan (District 7B)-

As lawmakers nationwide push to stop the blatantly inaccurate and pornographic materials that can currently be found in our public schools, last Friday Gov. Wes Moore joined nine other progressive governors to fight against parent’s input into their child's educational materials. Moore, along with other liberal Democratic governors, called on textbook publishers to “hold the line” and ignore reasonable parents’ requests to address some of the outlandish propaganda being taught in schools today like gender ideology. One thing is clear, there is an assault on parents’ rights coming out of Annapolis. This year, lawmakers tried to pass bills attacking parental rights and refused to pass bills that protect your role in your child’s life.

The letter from the ten Democratic governors says, “The negative impact that censorship and book- banning have on this nation’s students – many already marginalized and underrepresented in society – cannot be overstated during a time when we are facing an unprecedented youth mental health crisis. Each and every single student in the United States of America has the right to exist, to be seen, and to be represented.”

Our response to this statement is that adult-only material has always been censored in the best interest of children and youth. Hollywood itself uses ratings to help parents know whether a new movie is age-appropriate for their children up to the age of 17! This so-called “book-banning” should instead be referred to as “intentionally curated” selections of books that are age-appropriate for young readers. No parent allows their child unfettered access to the internet or hands them the remote control to be able to select X-rated content.

HB 119, County Boards of Education – Curriculum Guides and Courses of Study – Requirements, attempted to require each county and Baltimore City to teach radical gender ideology to all children beginning at age 4 without any parental consent whatsoever. The Maryland State Board of Education, MSDE, had already established policy guidelines requiring instruction in gender identity and sexual orientation throughout the health curriculum including the instruction of explicit sex acts. While the guidelines say, “age-appropriate,” some counties are including books in pre-k and kindergarten encouraging children to change their sex.

One book in many schools today for four-year-olds depicts a girl who cut her hair and changed her clothes to look like a boy, as well as changed her name from a girl’s name to a boy’s name. They may be in your school too. The purpose of HB 119 is to punish any school district that does not teach these things by withholding funding. Thankfully, the bill did not pass the Senate this year which was an enormous win for those who support parents’ rights. Not a single Democratic in the House of Delegates voted against the bill.

Just a few weeks ago, six Maryland parents filed suit against the Montgomery County School Board for allegedly forcing their children to read “Pride” themed books without parental knowledge.

The three couples from different religious backgrounds, including Christian and Muslim families, filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging the board violated their rights. The school board “claims authority to introduce pre-K and elementary school kids to certain books (the ‘Pride Storybooks”’) that promote one-sided transgender ideology, encourage gender transitioning, and focus excessively on romantic infatuation — with no parental notification or opportunity to opt-out,” the lawsuit states.

We applaud these parents because we believe they know and love their children best and know how and when to introduce complex issues concerning gender identity, transgenderism, and human sexuality.

Also during this past legislative session, HB576 aimed to waive the parental notification requirement after a bullying or harassment incident at the discretion of the student if the incident was found to be motivated by the student’s actual or perceived sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Many parents spoke out against this bill and the Public School Superintendents’ Association of Maryland and the Maryland Association of Boards of Education wrote unfavorable testimony against the bill.

Removing current school policy language that requires parental notification opens local systems to legal action, but more importantly, could prevent the bullied student from receiving appropriate attention at home and school. This bill would have created a potential for serious liability concerns and legal ramifications as an unintended consequence. Most importantly, the victim may not receive the services he or she needs due to the lack of parental involvement.

During the House debate on the floor, a fellow Republican delegate asked whether she would be informed if her son was bullied on the playground with the taunt “Girls rules, Boys drool”. Since the content of the taunt includes a statement about gender, this new law would prohibit the parent from being informed of the bullying incident unless the child consented. Our colleague continued to probe asking if her 5-year-old son was physically injured in the incident and whether she would be informed. Again, the answer was no if the child did not consent.

Thankfully, the bill did not pass the Senate. Again, not a single Democratic in the House of Delegates voted against the bill. In an attempt to provide an antidote to the continued pressure in Annapolis, House Republicans supported a bill entitled Family Law – Fundamental Parents Rights. This bill would have established that a parent has the fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education, care, and welfare of the parent’s child; and prohibited the State or a political subdivision from infringing on a parent’s fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education, care, and welfare of the parent’s child unless the State or political subdivision can demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence certain factors.

The bills filed in both the House and the Senate did not even make their way out of committee for a vote.

We will continue to be a voice for parents and not let the majority party prevent us from speaking out and protecting parents’ rights.

Benjamin Joseph

Benjamin Joesph has covered news in Eastern Baltimore County since 2006. He started as a reporter with the original East County Times in 2006. He started East Baltco News and later Eastcountytimes.com in 2022.