federal judge rules on students’ religious rights re: books

Notable federal district decision from a week or so ago concerning a student/parent objection to a book that had homoesexual [well, same-sex couple] characters. The court upheld a lower court dismissal of a lawsuit by a family climaing their religious rights were being violated when kids read books involving “positive portrayals of families headed by same-sex parents and same-sex marriage, including the frequently challenged children’s book, King and King.” The court stated that reading the books is not the same as being “indoctrinated” into affirming the choices the book’s characters make, or are evidencing. It’s an interesting challenge and an interesting, and to my mind positive, response with the upshot being “you do not have the right to not be offended”.

The First Circuit rejected the parents’ indoctrination claims. It held that there is no First Amendment free exercise right to be free from any reference in public elementary schools to the existence of families in which the parents are of different gender combinations. It also held that public schools are not obliged to shield individual students from ideas which potentially are religiously offensive, especially when the school does not require that the student agree with or affirm those ideas, or even participate in discussions about them.

You can read the full opinion here and some backstory on the controversy that sparked these claims here and here. Keep in mind that this book challenge happened in Massachusetts, a state where same sex marriages are legal and where a “1993 state law directed school systems to teach about different kinds of families and the harm of prejudice.”

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