The parents who lost a US lawsuit over the use of children’s books that encourage tolerance for gay people say that they will take the matter to the Supreme Court.

A Massachusetts federal appeals court last week ruled that an elementary school can continue to use the books. The court rejected the claims of the parents who said exposing their children to such books violated their ability to direct the religious training of their children.

Noting that there has never been a federal case finding a constitutional right of parents to exempt their children from exposure to books used in public schools, the court said, “There is no free exercise right to be free from any reference in public elementary schools to the existence of families in which the parents are of different gender combinations.”

The case came about after the parents complained about the book King & King being read to their children in a lesson about weddings. The fairy-tale-style book, written and illustrated by Linda De Haan, Stern Mijland, Stern Nijland, tells the story of a prince who finds love in the arms of another prince.

The two families objecting to the use of the book filed suit after the Lexington Superintendent of Schools released a public statement explaining the school district’s position that it would not provide parental notification for “discussions, activities, or materials that simply reference same-gender parents or that otherwise recognize the existence of differences in sexual orientation.”

“The courts have rightfully found that parents can’t control which books are used in school just because they are in conflict with their personal religious beliefs,” said Sarah Wunsch, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts staff attorney.

The court noted that “Public schools often walk a tightrope between the many competing constitutional demands made by parents, students, teachers, and the schools’ other constituents… The balance the school struck here does not offend the Free Exercise or Due Process clauses of the U.S. Constitution.”

“The ACLU supports the rights of parents to religious freedom, which includes the right to talk to their children about what they are learning in school, giving them alternative materials, and conveying their values and beliefs,” said Wunsch.

“Ultimately, if parents object to public education, they also have a constitutional right to send their children to private schools, to home school them, and to lobby their local school officials for changes in the curriculum. But they do not have a federal constitutional right to control the material that is taught to all students.”

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