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Religious Powerplays Redux

         Harvey chides me for “glossing over” the “rights” of parents who sued the Lexington school district for exposing their elementary kids to sympathetic books about gay families. They lost their case in federal court, when Judge Wolf dismissed their federal constitutional claims and their claims under state law. As Harvey notes, the parents are free nonetheless to press their state law claims in state courts: these claims were dismissed without prejudice –- not because this is a hard case, as Harvey suggests -- but because state courts are the appropriate arbiters of novel state statutory claims. Judge Wolf also suggested that disagreements between individual parents and their communities over controversial public school curricula would be best resolved by the political process, (or mediation) not the courts.

         What are the statutory rights of parents in this case? As Judge Wolf observed, Massachusetts law provides an opt out for parents who do not want their kids exposed to sex ed in the public schools: They must be given prior notice and a chance to exempt their children from curriculum that “primarily involves human sexual education or human sexuality.” Harvey thinks that a book portraying a married, same-sex couple sympathetically might well fall into this category of “human sexual education.” I disagree, but it’s sweet that he still associates marriage with sex.

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