School officials at Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul, Minnesota are attempting to be more sensitive and inclusive where holidays are concerned — and that's resulted in a ban on the celebration of Valentine's Day.
The school is predominantly Asian and black, and for more than 50% of the students, English is their second language, reports Associated Press. Bruce Vento's students also come from a variety of faith backgrounds, so Principal Scott Masini has banned the celebration of Valentine's Day. His letter to parents said that he wanted to avoid "encroaching on the educational opportunities of others and threatening a culture of tolerance and respect for all." Masini said he knew his decision would be met with some disdain.
"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," he said.
An editorial in the Minnesota Star Tribune labeled the decision misguided and urged the administrator to rethink the issue. Parents were divided, with some agreeing that the sensitivity shown to diverse cultures was admirable, with others renouncing it as just a politically correct move.
The school district reminded the community that the longstanding policy for all schools is that no holidays are to be observed except those that are legally sanctioned. These approved days include presidents' remembrance days, Veterans Day, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial day.
Nationwide, some schools have elected to ban holidays that might cause concern for some families, while others have just adapted their festivities. But Superintendent Thomas R. Scarice of Madison Public Schools in Connecticut explained to the Star Tribune that he thinks holidays are important to kids but should adjust as needed to remain inclusive.
Masini is also considering banning other holidays that are culturally specific, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, writes Alex Garofalo of the International Business Times.
In a Fox News editorial, Todd Starnes said that an email from him to Masini garnered a curt reply. The principal said this was not a news-worthy story and referred him to district offices if further information was needed.
Starnes also spoke with a district spokesperson who told him that the St. Paul area included many cultures from around the globe, one of which is a large Somali community. Starnes replied that children from other countries who come to live in America should be adjusting to US cultural norms.
There could be another reason for the holiday embargo, posited Starnes.
"Perhaps no one wanted to be Principal Masini's Valentine. Or maybe Santa Claus left a lump of coal in his Christmas stocking? Or maybe, just maybe, he got the short end of the wishbone?"
Other schools in the state have not joined in on the prohibition of holidays. In most cases, teachers are allowed to use their discretion as to which holidays are celebrated in their classrooms. Across the country, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania have done away with holiday celebrations since all students cannot be included.
In some cases, schools have decided to have seasonal parties in place of banned holidays. But William Beeman, chair of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, says celebrations are important.
He shares that holidays create "social solidarity, and added school children need to have fun and to build community, reports the Inquisitr.