Officials in a taxpayer-funded suburban Portland school district have banned Santa Claus — and, it seems, any trace of the celebration of Christmas — because “images and artifacts” “like Santa Claus” create insufficiently “inclusive and welcoming spaces.”
Hillsboro school district human resources director Kona Lew-Williams recently sent the 282-word memo to school employees.
“In the past, the Human Resources Department has sponsored a holiday door decorating contest in an effort to promote teambuilding and celebrate the season,” Lew-Williams begins.
However, an unspecified number of unnamed people “have shared concerns about not feeling welcome at the Administration Center due to the images and artifacts present in our spaces,” Lew-Williams then explains.
As a result, everyone will now have to suffer. There will be no door-decorating contest in the Hillsboro school district this year “in an effort to honor the multilingual and multicultural community.”
“You may still decorate your door or office if you like, but we ask that you be respectful and sensitive to the diverse perspectives and beliefs of our community and refrain from using religious-themed decorations or images like Santa Claus,” the human resources director pontificates.
Lew-Williams suggests a “winter wonderland” theme, or perhaps a celebration “of the amazing people in your department.”
Hillsboro school district spokeswoman Beth Graser told Portland ABC affiliate KATU that the memo was internal and intended only for staffers.
“It really went out as a notification to staff, not even parents, just to make sure they are being sensitive and thoughtful as they enter the holiday season,” Graser said.
Christmas hell broke loose when someone — presumably a school employee — contacted a local reporter and the reporter spilled the story publicly.
Some parents expressed displeasure at the new anti-Santa Claus, Christmas-banning rules.
“If you’re going to put a giant cross on the window that’s one thing, but I think Santa Claus is more folklore and American history than a religious symbol at this point,” parent Jason Ramirez told KATU.
The local hue and cry in response to the order to “refrain from using” “images like Santa Claus” has been enough to cause the Hillsboro school district to take to its Facebook page on Wednesday in a 379-word attempt to explain that an order to “refrain from using” “images like Santa Claus” — and to decorate with a “winter wonderland” motif instead — is totally different from banning Christmas or Santa.
“We have no policies or directives around this issue, we merely want to remind staff that we need to create inclusive and welcoming spaces for all of our students and realize that many of our students — because of their religion, culture, or other beliefs — do not feel comfortable (and in many cases may not be allowed by their parents) participating in activities that are holiday-based or religious in nature, or being surrounded by imagery that is a direct affront to them,” the school district Facebook post reads, in part — and in a harrowing run-on sentence.
Here is the entire school district statement on Facebook: