Students at a St. Paul, Minn., elementary school are poised to stop celebrating Christmas after their principal decided that it and other “dominant” holidays worked to “suppress” the views of others.
“I have come to the difficult decision to discontinue the celebration of the dominant holidays until we can come to a better understanding of how the dominant view will suppress someone else’s view,” principal Scott Masini, who oversees Bruce Vento Elementary School, said in a letter that surfaced online. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Vento Elementary is 52 percent Asian, 35 percent black, 6 percent Hispanic, and just 4 percent white.
Masini’s policy isn’t final yet. He initially planned to send his letter to parents Thursday, but after it popped up on an invite-only Facebook page, he decided to wait a few days while discussing the matter with district officials.
If the policy is implemented, four holidays will be affected: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day. In the letter, Masini said abolishing the holidays was important to ensure tolerance.
“At Vento one of the most important values we have is Racial Equity and Access,” Masini said. “One of the concerns that I have … is whether or not this practice [of celebrating holidays] is encroaching on the educational opportunities of others and threatening the culture of tolerance and respect for all,” Masini said.
It’s not the first time Masini has taken an aggressive action to promote perceived equality at his school. Last year, at a staff meeting, he broadcast a picture of a hooded Ku Klux Klan member on the wall, asking staff to sit in silence and reflect on the question “When do you wear the hood?” Masini said the exercise was intended to help staff address the topic of “white privilege.”
As noted by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Masini’s new policy is just the latest in a general trend of schools trying to avoid holiday celebrations. For example, the school district in nearby Rochester replaced its Halloween party years ago with a “harvest festival” that bans costumes. The same district also changed father/daughter dances to parent/daughter dances to improve sensitivity, but this instead caused a drop in popularity that led to the dance’s wholesale cancellation.
Another district covering several Minneapolis suburbs banned birthday celebrations to promote more “inclusiveness.”
St. Paul’s school district already discourages celebrating holidays in any way, though schools are allowed to choose to do so anyway. The only exceptions are Veterans Day and the birthdays of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, where schools are expected to spend at least some time observing the holiday if school is held on that day.
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