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An example of Damians nail art
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Graduation season is here and so, it seems, are controversial graduation speeches. In a faith-based 20-minute commencement address at Catholic...

Response to Banned Books Article


Dear Editors,

In response to Hannah Brooker’s “Banned Books Week” article, I would like to go into a bit more in depth about one of the major challenges against LGBTQ+ related books in Montgomery County, which the author went out of their way to mention. This is a lawsuit called Mahmoud V. McKnight.

First: what is Mahmoud V. McKnight?

Recently, some MCPS schools accommodated parent requests to opt their kids out of listening to story books featuring LGBTQ+ characters and content. In March of 2023, MCPS decided not to allow parents to opt out, and to not notify parents when these books would be read. They reasoned that these opt outs would be logistically difficult to accommodate, and that excusing students would isolate other students. 

Parents sued the school system over the policy, claiming MCPS’s refusal  to let their children opt out of reading books with LGBTQ+ characters infringes on their religious freedoms. On August 24, 2023, Judge Deborah L. Boardman denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, stating there was insufficient evidence that listening to these books would encourage students to defy the religious beliefs of their parents, and that the no opt-out policy served the school system’s interests in promoting an undisturbed learning environment. The plaintiffs immediately filed a notice of appeal, indicating they will seek to have  this ruling reversed by a higher court.

Let’s be clear what this case is about. This case is not about religious freedom. Religious freedom means the right to worship in any way you see fit, or not at all, as long as you do not infringe on the freedoms of others. What the plaintiffs want is a world in which their religious beliefs are more important than the rights of LGBTQ+ students and staff to be free from discrimination.

One of the most important aspects of public education is that we learn about people who are different from us. We don’t go to a religious school where everyone believes the same things. What binds us together is mutual respect and understanding. That’s something we learn here at school, not something we all come to school knowing. When we start allowing people to opt out of this education, we stop learning acceptance, and when we don’t learn acceptance, intimidation, bullying and harassment too often follow. Those are the real disruptions to our learning environment and to our peace of mind. 


Zachary Briskin-Watson, Junior at B-CC HS

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