Utah School Allows Students to Opt Out of Black History Month Curriculum


Photo courtesy of the CDC on Unsplash.com

Adam Bear, Staff Writer

Every February, many schools teach their students about important aspects of Black history in celebration of Black History Month. In the predominantly white community of North Ogden, Utah, several parents disagreed with their children’s participation in Black History Month. In a controversial move, they went to the administrators of the Maria Montessori School, a public charter school, and demanded that their children be opted out of the curriculum. The school “reluctantly” agreed, according to Academy Director Micah Hirokawa. 

The decision was publicized by a local newspaper, the Standard-Examiner, which led to heavy community backlash. U.S. Representative Blake D. Moore, whose district includes North Ogden, said in a statement that he, “strongly believe[s] we cannot learn American history without learning Black history.”

On a legal basis, it is unclear whether parents have the right to opt their children out of Black History Month education or not. Utah law allows public school students to opt out of instruction that infringes upon their religious beliefs or “right of conscience,” but does not allow exemption from the core social studies curriculum, which includes a focus on “inequality and race relations.”

Regardless, Maria Montessori Academy has reversed their decision, and Black History Month education will be mandatory. In a statement posted to the school’s website, it was said that parents who initially had “questions and concerns” had “resolved any differences.”