FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—The person behind a popular X (formerly Twitter) account aimed at exposing leftist ideology in schools is threatening legal action after a Maryland school district that has become notorious for clamping down on parents restricted the account’s access to what courts have ruled constitutes a public forum.
Montgomery County Public Schools blocked the account, Inside the Classroom, days after Inside the Classroom had exposed a public school teacher who condemned the “right-wing idea of parents’ rights” as “literally just fascism.” The school district has fought in the courts to deny parents the right to opt their kids out of lessons that include LGBTQ+ books.
America First Legal, a public interest law firm that represents Inside the Classroom, sent a demand letter to the school district on Tuesday, threatening legal action if the district does not restore Inside the Classroom’s access to the district’s account.
“It isn’t enough that Montgomery County Public Schools has been trampling all over parental rights,” Ian Prior, senior adviser at America First Legal, told The Daily Signal. “Now, MCPS teachers are taking to social media to bash parents as ‘fascist’ for daring to protect their children from the radical and abusive transgender agenda.”
“Then, MCPS hits the trifecta of bad judgment and violates the First Amendment rights of those, like Inside the Classroom, that are shining the spotlight of accountability on what is happening at our schools,” Prior added. “We look forward to MCPS taking swift action to unblock all accounts and come into compliance with the First Amendment.”
In the demand letter, Inside the Classroom notes that Montgomery County Public Schools blocked its X account shortly after the account exposed the teacher who condemned the idea of parental rights.
“Alright, we have to talk about this right-wing idea of parents’ rights. It’s literally just fascism,” the teacher said in a TikTok video Inside the Classroom shared on Feb. 10. While the teacher says she sees “educators’ role as partnering with parents,” she goes on to insist that “parents and caregivers who reject their children’s gender identities are not taking care of their children.”
“Conservatives that claim that their real concern is ‘parents’ rights’ are just trying to use a family-friendly excuse for wanting trans people to not exist,” the teacher says.
Four days after Inside the Classroom shared that video, “tagging” Montgomery County Public Schools in the post, the school district blocked Inside the Classroom’s account from accessing the school district’s X page.
While X users have the ability to block any other user, courts have ruled that the First Amendment bars government officials from doing so in certain circumstances.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Davison v. Randall (2019) that a Virginia public official violated the First Amendment by engaging in “viewpoint discrimination.” The official had banned an individual from commenting on her social media page, which the court said constitutes a public forum.
Phyllis J. Randall, chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, banned Virginia resident Brian Davison from her official Facebook page, on which she allows public comments. The court ruled that the “interactive component” of a local government official’s social media page constitutes a public forum and that Randall violated the First Amendment by excluding Davison from her page due to his views.
Inside the Classroom claims in the letter that Montgomery County Public Schools is “even more culpable in its constitutional violation” than Randall had been.
“Unlike the defendant in Davison v. Randall, where the account at issue was that of an elected official, the account at issue is the official account for the entire taxpayer-funded school system,” the letter reads. “MCPS has over [122,000] followers on X, and users are able to repost, reply, and like MCPS’s posts.
MCPS’s X account consists of information related to school activities such as upcoming events, announcements, surveys, and school schedules. In fact, according to the MCPS website, social media ‘can help Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) further our mission and core values by engaging students, their parents/guardians, and the community.’”
“Given that the MCPS X account is undoubtedly a public forum, it is thus impermissible for MCPS to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint against those who engage in the interactive nature of that public forum,” the letter adds. “Here, MCPS blocked Inside the Classroom because it tagged MCPS and tweeted a video and its commentary of an MCPS teacher who compared parental rights to ‘fascism’ and stated that parents who don’t affirm their child’s claimed gender ‘are not taking care of their children.’”
Many X users interacted with Inside the Classroom’s post, mostly criticizing the teacher and Montgomery County Public Schools, and then the school district blocked Inside the Classroom.
“It is abundantly clear that MCPS was motivated to take this action by suppressing the ‘particular views taken by’ Inside the Classroom; namely, disapproval of a teacher attacking parents for not supporting ‘gender identity,’” the letter adds, citing a relevant court case.
“America First Legal therefore demands, on behalf of Inside the Classroom, that MCPS cease and desist blocking Inside the Classroom on X and that any and all official MCPS or MCPS staff social media accounts cease and desist blocking users in violation of the First Amendment,” the letter concludes.
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