This article brought to you by Informed Carroll County.
As the school year comes to an end and Pride month begins, more Carroll County parents are voicing their opinions in the debate over social justice initiatives aimed at influencing children, like child gender ideology.
While neighboring school systems in Montgomery and Howard County have adopted many of these causes, Carroll County remains a battleground for the child gender ideology. The county residents elected Board of Education members aligned with pro-parent groups such as Moms for Liberty, who advocate for parental rights and a returned focus to core academics in public schools.
Friday, June 9th, marked the 1 year anniversary that CCPS Board Members passed a flag policy that limits classroom flag displays to the U.S., state and county flags. At the time, activists like Amanda Jozkowski, who ran for and lost her bid for the BOE in 2022, were opposed to the measure which prevented social justice, political and religious symbols from being displayed.
School officials have made it clear that the policy only pertains to the walls of the classroom and that the freedom of individual expression remains protected; allowing a teacher or student to wear attire that supports Pride and other social causes.
However, this hasn’t appeased all child gender ideology activists, with some CCPS staff aligned with the cause exploiting gaps in the flag policy to make a statement.
For example, at East Middle School, a parent recently reported a Pride flag prominently displayed in their child’s classroom. While at first glance it appeared to be the rainbow flag, the teacher claimed that it was the “Flag of Cusco” in support of student studies of the Inca Empire. The teacher maintains that the display, timed with Pride month, was a coincidence, while some parents in the community believe it was an end-around to the flag policy. Regardless, the school system ruled in favor of the instructor and the Pride-like flag remained.
The “Flag of Cusco” side by side with the progress pride flag.
Last year at Westminster High School, a teacher hung a Pride flag with the Orioles logo, making use of a policy loophole that allowed professional sports team flags in classrooms. Students and their parents reported the incident, but the flag remains up to this day.
Beyond flags and symbols, child gender ideology has also made its way into broader school policy and procedures, mainly due to the Biden administration’s forced interpretations of Title 9, which requires school systems to accommodate students who identify as a gender different from their sex assigned at birth.
CCPS has a little known “Guidelines for Gender Identity Non-Discrimination” policy, which attempts to balance the legal requirements of Title 9 with community standards. One notable difference in Carroll County’s policy compared to neighboring counties is that parents of the student must consent to a student changing their gender identity and pronouns, which prevents the school system from keeping their child’s gender identity hidden from parents.
Last month, the Maryland Muckraker reported an incident at Century highschool where a biological boy was allowed to use the girls’ restroom. The Muckraker found that the situation was consistent with official CCPS policy, which allowed for bathroom use based on a student’s gender identity. While most parents are against this policy, CCPS, like all school systems in the country, must abide by the Title 9 requirements.
In another recent incident at Shiloh Middle School, parents reported digital and paper forms for student track and field sign ups that contained three options for gender: male, female and “other”. The form managed to upset citizens on both sides of the issue, with parents demanding only male/female options be presented, and trans-activists arguing that more options should have been added.
When one of the parents contacted the school system, an administrator acknowledged the concern and responded that “this would be addressed”.
Yet, the battle over gender identity hasn’t been confined to the school system and has bled far and wide into other aspects of the Carroll County community.
In March of this year, an Adult drag queen show was hosted at the Best Western of Westminster and open to minors. The sold out event attracted dozens of protesters who called for Best Western to cancel the risque event. When Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees was asked if future events like this would be prevented during an open town hall meeting hosted by Commissioner Joe Vigliotti, the sheriff described how his office responded to the event.
“The reason why they (drag show event) put up a sign saying you have to be 21 is because of us (sheriff’s department) and our communications with the organizers of those shows. I can’t stop them, but when you’re advertising to children at those events…I don’t think you’ll see that anymore. Shame on them.”
The Pride festivals at various Carroll County municipalities have also grown in scope with a shifted focus towards the “T” in the 2SLGBTQIA+ acronym.
This year, Sykesville’s Pride Day featured a drag queen story hour for children, along with a photo booth hosted by the Carroll County Public Library. Supporters argued that the event wasn’t forced upon children and it was up to the families to decide if they wanted to participate, while many parents questioned whether the public library’s involvement meant that county tax dollars were indirectly sponsoring the event.
(Peter Hauser/for Carroll County Times)
Westminster’s own Pride Festival will follow on July 8th, later into the Pride season, where it will be held on Main St., prominently in front of Birdie’s Cafe, one of its founding sponsors. The event sponsors scholarships for LGBTQ+ students, and is also expected to host controversial drag queen events for children.
While many citizens privately express opposition to the events geared towards children, many are still reluctant to publicly come forward for fear of retaliation.
Kit Hart, chair of the Carroll County chapter of Moms for Liberty, describes being contacted by dozens of parents alike.
“Many parents have privately come forward with their concerns. People are afraid, understandably so, because of the backlash they will undoubtedly receive.”
The backlash is real. Recently, the Southern Poverty Law Center recently labeled Moms for Liberty a “hate group” and specifically called out her chapter.
Parents in Carroll County who advocate for the required acceptance of child-trans ideology in schools and led PFLAG protests for students have been vocal on social media about Kit Hart and the Moms for Liberty group, citing the SPLC designation and calling its parent members “hateful bigots”.
Informed Carroll was unable to identify any reported hate crimes committed by Moms for Liberty in the county.
When asked about the “hate group” designation, Hart had this to say.
“We are not the enemy and any common-sense American can see that. The SPLC has not been considered a credible source for years. The only reason they listed us on their map is because we have been successful and are effective.”
Hart continued, “Our chapter just wants common sense to remain the standard. We do not want boys in girls’ private spaces and sports. We want kids to be instructed academically, not with a radical ideology with which most parents don’t agree. We want great, educational books in our media centers, not pornography. We have high goals and we won’t stop until we attain them all. And then we’ll set more.”
It’s unclear where the culture war battle over child gender ideology will take Carroll County, but one thing is certain: The debate is far from over and shows no signs of slowing down.