By Ann Guthrie Hingston

This article appeared in the December issue of Our Parish Times, an inter-parish newspaper serving 28 Catholic parishes and schools in Montgomery County.

Because many of us have children in parochial schools, it is easy to ignore what is happening in public schools and the impact of decisions made by county officials on our families and communities. You may have heard that in recent months concerned parents of many faiths and their clergy, including Catholic priests, have stood in unison at rallies outside the headquarters of the county Board of Education. They gathered to promote restoration of First Amendment parental rights and free exercise of religion in Montgomery County.

Such activism is the result of two recent changes at Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). Earlier this year the Board of Education, consisting of elected officials, decided to change past practice and to deny parents the right to “opt out” their children from lessons and books that unnecessarily violate their sincerely held religious beliefs. They took this action even though other Maryland public school districts allow parents to “opt out.” Also, MCPS adopted changes to the school curriculum and instructional materials to spark discussions of human sexuality and relationships, beginning as early as PreK (4 years old).

We believe these are intentional moves to silence voices of faith. A nonpartisan volunteer group called United Against Racism in Education (UARE) is engaged in building coalitions of people of faith who attend churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship. Together we are urging MCPS to change its policies to allow public school parents to decide whether their children should be exposed to such curriculum materials.

Roman Catholics comprise the largest religious denomination in Montgomery County. We believe it is time for us to wake up and realize that the Judeo-Christian beliefs we cherish are being pushed aside by school and county officials. Many Catholic families opposing the school board on its denial of God given parental rights are from countries other than the United States. They left their birthplaces and families to move to this great country, because of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The Montgomery County Board of Education is stripping these rights away.

Groups of parents, grandparents, teachers, community members and faith leaders are committed to restoring Parental Rights in Montgomery County and within our school system. We want Montgomery County Public Schools to get back to their major task: "Academic Excellence for Every Student." Parents need to be informed and advocate for their children. For more information about our efforts, visit the website - UARE.US, Facebook: United Against Racism in Education and X (Twitter) @UARE4Kids.


Ann Guthrie Hingston is an At-Large Member of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee.

Montgomery County Republican Party