School District Violated Parents’ Rights To Opt-Out Of SEL Curriculum, Lawsuit Alleges


A Pennsylvania school district allegedly violated the rights of parents after refusing to allow their children to opt out of a Social-Emotional Learning program (SEL), despite multiple requests. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday.

America First Legal (AFL) is a conservative legal organization that filed Wednesday’s lawsuit against West Shore School District in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. According to AFL, the parents claimed that their requests for an exemption from the curriculum were repeatedly denied due to conflicts between their Christian beliefs and West Shore School District near Harrisburg.

According to court documents, one case in which the lawsuit was cited is where a parent sent a written notice to the principal of an elementary school stating that the curriculum did not align with the religious beliefs of their child. The principal replied that the child would be exonerated.

Later that day, however, the superintendent reversed his decision and denied the request. According to court documents, the superintendent stated that the parents had not “Identified particular instruction within the curriculum which conflicts with [her] religious beliefs.”

According to the West Shore School District website, “CharacterStrong,” the district’s SEL curriculum aims to teach students “the value and service of empathy, service, connection.” Site describes the curriculum as “more that a set lesson – it’s a partnership between schools, families, to create a space where students feel at home and learn skills that will allow them to be the best they can.”

Critics of SEL claim that the emphasis on empathy and compassion is a cover to introduce ideas related to Critical Race Theory (CRT), such as systemic racism or white privilege. Parents across the country are also suing schools districts for similar complaints about CRT or similar controversial curriculum.

The AFL states on its website that “Under Pennsylvania Code parents have the right of exempt their children from certain instruction that conflicts with the religions of their children.”

Ian Prior, senior adviser to AFL, stated in a statement that West Shore School District had violated clients’ constitutional and statutory rights by denying them the right to opt out of objectionable curriculum and materials which violate their religious beliefs.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to the West Shore School District but they did not respond immediately.