An elementary school in St. Paul, Minnesota has announced it has banned all major holidays, including Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Thanksgiving, in an attempt to be more "inclusive" of all religions and people groups.
According to the Minnesota Star Tribune, Principal Scott Masini of Bruce Vento Elementary School last week posted a letter to a private Facebook group explaining his decision.
"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, who has served at the school since 2013, noted.
"One of the concerns that I have 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 letter continues. "I'm struggling with this and I don't know what the right answer is. But, what I do know is celebrating some holidays and not others is not inclusive of all of the students we serve."
Masini concluded by acknowledging that shelving these celebrations "will be an unpopular decision with some of you," and said that administrators would be happy to discuss the decision with concerned parents.
A number of individuals have taken to social media to criticize the move, which is expected to go into effect immediately.
Wrote one commenter: "Ban Christmas??? What.....! This is very wrong. This is the USA and as I know it.... 'One nation, under God'. So sad of what this great country was and now what we have become...You sir, are a child's nightmare and Grinch."
Added another, "That is what we are missing today, and we are much the poorer for it - we are not a community any longer. There is no sense of 'us' as a family, a community, a nation. In our pell-mell rush not to offend anybody, we have abandoned the shared rituals that bind us. Unity or cohesiveness as a value became poison somewhere along the line. Because of this sense of otherness, we no longer have each other's backs, feel no compulsion whatsoever to pull together or contribute to the common good."
Amid backlash, Saint Paul Public Schools released a statement to the Star-Tribune defending the principal's ban: "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."
Fox News contributor Todd Starnes has also criticized the move, accusing the school board of being "infected with a case of ethnic sensitivity."
Starnes explained that such a diagnosis was confirmed by a district spokesperson, who told him that their schools include many cultures, including a very large Somali population. The school's website also shows the student population is roughly 63 percent Asian-American, 24 percent African-American, 10 percent Hispanic American and 4 percent Caucasian American.
"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," he writes. "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."