The Baby Jesus, Tom Turkey and Cupid are about to be given the heave-ho at a Minnesota elementary school to be more inclusive of their ethnically diverse student population.
Bruce Vento Elementary School, in St. Paul, has decided to stop celebrating Valentine’s Day along with other “dominant holidays” including Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“My personal feeling is we need to find a way to honor and engage in holidays that are inclusive of our student population,” Principal Scott Masini wrote in a letter to parents.
The Star-Tribune reports the letter was surfaced on a private Facebook page titled, “Supporting St. Paul Students and Teachers.”
“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,” the principal noted.
The Star-Tribune reports Masini made the decision to can the holidays in consultation with his staff.
“One of the concerns that I have,” he wrote, “…is whether or not this practice is encroaching on the educational opportunities of others and threatening the culture of tolerance and respect for all.”
The holiday hullabaloo has generated plenty of outrage across the Twin Cities. Get a load of some of the local headlines:
? St. Paul school kisses Valentine’s Day, other ‘dominant holidays,’ goodbye
? St. Paul School Mulls Dropping Holiday Celebrations
? Valentine’s Day ban touches off wider debate on school celebrations
? PC Grinch Breaks Cupid’s Heart (okay that was my headline, but still…)
Even the folks at Minnesota Public Radio got riled up – and they’re not exactly a bastion of conservative thought.
“A St. Paul school is putting a stake in the very heart of Valentine’s Day,” Bob Collins wrote.
The principal told me via email that it was “truly not a story” – and then referred me to the district for further clarification.
Saint Paul Public Schools released a statement to the Star-Tribune that certainly seemed to defend the principal’s ban on heart-shaped candies.
“Because Saint Paul Public Schools is a diverse district that is filled with families from around the world we strive to respect all cultures and all students,” they wrote. “We recognize that not every student celebrates or participates in some or all holidays. We have a board policy that discourages programs and festivities that celebrate observances unless they are required by law.”
It sounds to me like the St. Paul area is infected with a case of ethnic sensitivity – a diagnosis confirmed by the district spokesperson.
She explained to me that their schools include many, many cultures – students from around the world – including a very large Somali population.
That’s all well and good, but the children live in America now. They are presumably Americans. As such they and their families should be acclimating to the American way of life.
They no longer live in Somalia. They live in the United States. And in the United States we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Of course, there could be another reason behind the holiday ban.
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?