“Protect our children!” chanted a Muslim-led coalition as they rallied outside the Montgomery County Maryland School Board Tuesday against the removal of an “opt-out” option from human sexuality related material.

Pro-LGBT activists counter-protested, chanting “secular schools!”

Security decided to allow 30 people from each side of the issue to come into the hearing.

“Percentage not number!” chanted the opt-out side, claiming they had a bigger presence outside, so more should be allowed in, which was not granted.

Following protests outside the Montgomery County School Board over the removal of an “opt-out” option for students to avoid human sexuality related material, the public had an opportunity to comment at the meeting itself.

During the MoCo School Board, several Muslim speakers used the public comment time to support an “opt-out” option from sexuality material.

One described removing opt-out as “intolerance of the faith community” and concluded with “Takbir!”

Some in crowd replied “Allahu Akbar!”

One speaker brought the Qur’an to suggest that just as it’s unfair “to say you hate Jesus” if one hasn’t read the book because he’s in it, that it’s unfair to believe them wanting to “opt-out” comes from hate for LGBT people.

“If MCPS wants to accept and accommodate a student’s belief about their gender identity, they must accept and accommodate a student’s religious identity,” he argued.

“We identify with our religion. You have to be fair and equal in accepting different identities. Please reinstate the opt-out since it’s fair, it’s equal, and it respects all.”

One Muslim mother spoke in support of an “inclusive curriculum” without opt-out.

She says that “Muslim parents do not share the views of the few vocal reactionaries claiming to represent all of us.”

“Gender-fluid people have been part of Islamic societies from the beginning.”

One child who identifies as pansexual himself explained that “we deserve to have books in our schools that teach people about LGBTQ.”

“It’s not touching you, hurting you physically, or doing any physical damage to you,” he says. “I don’t know why you hate it so much!”

“We support the expanded curriculum, because it teaches students that there are many ways to be human,” a speaker explained.

“Allowing families to opt out of this curriculum will perpetuate ignorance, intolerance, and fear of the LGBTQ voices and sends the wrong message that they are right to be afraid.”

Montgomery County Councilmember Kristin Mink spoke, expressing a nuance to this discussion while supporting the curriculum without opt-outs.

She explains that while this issue “puts some Muslim families on the same side of an issue as white supremacists” (prompting an audience member to say “false!”) that “the folks I’ve talked to today, I would not put in the same category.”

She describes having fought side-by-side with the same Muslim organizations on other issues in the past.

She agrees that the Muslim community is clear that their position doesn’t come from hate, nor does it include a desire for a ban on relevant material, just an “opt-out.”

She says that the point of difference is that allowing kids to opt out of the readings does harm to the LGBTQIA+ community.

“You cannot say that this is a particular demographic of people who when they appear in books we now allow some student and families to say ‘we’re not going to read those books.’ There’s no way to do that without sending a clear message to the LGBTQIA+ community that you are seen as different, as other, and other people don’t need to learn about your distance or have you included in the curriculum.”