When is 20% > 80%?

I find it hard to believe adults give two *****s either way.

"Other kids are wearing costumes, don't care."

"My kid can no longer wear a costume, don't care."


I agree with sarah, seems wrong to end an activity because some children's parents' have religious objections. It is a slippery slope, you change a school culture to fit a religion? Some people believe that there should be no dancing or singing, that girls should wear head scarves, that boys should not sit next to girls, that birthdays should not be celebrated, that sex education should not be taught .....


dave said:
Anyone who thinks Halloween promotes religion is being willfully obtuse.

The issue is not that it promotes religion so much as that it is antithetical to some religions and therefore those families do not celebrate it nor allow their children to do so. Of course the schools don't force those children to participate, but the alternative (sitting in the library) is not much fun for these children, many of whom aren't really old enough to understand.


dave said:
Anyone who thinks Halloween promotes religion is being willfully obtuse.

Can't you say the same thing for most religious beliefs? It's about faith, not science.


dave said:
Anyone who thinks Halloween promotes religion is being willfully obtuse.

question

But then again, there's an awful lot of that sort of thing going on in this whole country, and not just about Halloween.....


My own somewhat raffish childhood was happily graced by Halloween costumes, trick-or-treat, harmless pranks (we had no "Mischief Night" where I lived, but still routinely stuffed cars fulla leaves and did the "burning bag-o'-dog poop on the porch/stick a pin in the doorbell/hide & watch" routine on several occasions), bobbing for apples, carving pumpkins, etc.; like many of us, I loved Halloween before the commercialism kicked in...

That said, at least this time we don't have a hundred SB puppet plaintiffs represented by the Thomas More Law Center looking to insure that any & all Halloween-related activity is banned district-wide. Thinking back to those piquant days of Xmas-inspired church/state bickering here in SOMA all those years ago makes me almost wistful...

BUT: Since I'd rather not have my school taxes pay for litigation brought on by this issue when there are so many more crucial ones facing the BOE, Please let's just agree to live & let live...

-s.

BTW, Halloween has always been my daughter's favorite holiday, so mess with it and you'll answer to her. Not what you want, believe me.


sac said:


dave said:
Anyone who thinks Halloween promotes religion is being willfully obtuse.
The issue is not that it promotes religion so much as that it is antithetical to some religions and therefore those families do not celebrate it nor allow their children to do so. Of course the schools don't force those children to participate, but the alternative (sitting in the library) is not much fun for these children, many of whom aren't really old enough to understand.

But why are these parents allowing their children to believe there's something wrong with them if they (or their parents) CHOOSE to not let them participate? It's up to the parents to explain these things to their children no matter what their age. Don't underestimate kids -- they feel "left out" because someone told them they're "different".

If, as you say, it's not fun for these children to sit in the library because they aren't old enough to understand why, then they're also not old enough to understand that Halloween is "evil".


If there is a separation of church and state, why are members of any group allowed to protest what has clearly evolved into a secular celebration on religious grounds. This is not like Christmas, when students are not allowed to sing songs directly related to a religion. Also, I hear a lot of fellow liberals always up in arms about the extreme interpretations of Christianity and Islam, but are strangely accommodating to other kinds of medieval beliefs


One thing I want to make abundantly clear which is being left out of this conversation is that at no time did any family or parent who does not participate ask for the cancellation. So it is not people "pushing" their beliefs on anyone. The decision was based on the fact that when time, energy, and resources are limited we'd prefer to use them on optional activities that ALL of our students can enjoy and benefit from such as our harvest festival and gardening activities, etc.


annielou said:
If there is a separation of church and state, why are members of any group allowed to protest what has clearly evolved into a secular celebration on religious grounds. This is not like Christmas, when students are not allowed to sing songs directly related to a religion. Also, I hear a lot of fellow liberals always up in arms about the extreme interpretations of Christianity and Islam, but are strangely accommodating to other kinds of medieval beliefs

Like I've said, there was no "protest". Surely we can agree that parents can follow their religious beliefs as they see fit. As a school, when it isn't benefitting all our students and it is in fact separating some and making them feel like a minority, it us something that most of us without religious objections are uncomfortable with.


As someone has already suggested, I think there's more to some of the parents' objections than religion. For some parents with limited budgets, they perceive the parade as a "competition" where their kid will fall behind. For a few, it's just a hassle for them to send the kid to school with both "real" clothes and a costume with a lot of pieces which will be lost. I can see both sides - the parade is fun for some and a way to show off a costume they've worked hard on. For others, it's a logistical pain in the butt, one more thing on a seemingly endless "to do" list.


It is about changing a school's culture to fit a minority's religious objections. Do you start ending birthday celebrations because a relgious minority does not believe in celebrating birthdays?


h4daniel said:
It is about changing a school's culture to fit a minority's religious objections. Do you start ending birthday celebrations because a relgious minority does not believe in celebrating birthdays?

Sorry but our schools culture has very little to do with a one hour Halloween party / parade. It is one of inclusiveness. No child should be made to feel like a minority or segregated in their own school.


This has been an interesting debate so far. I have mixed feelings about it. However, one thing troubles me, and that's the thread title. I believe a core principle of our country is that decisions like this one are not made on the basis of majority rule. There are times when the 80% needs to give way to the 20%.

I'm not sure if this is one of those cases. But I do know that as a white Christian male I need to be very aware of my privileged position in society when I start making judgments about what people in other races, faiths and gender find offensive. The trick is figuring out what is a reasonable accommodation to make to a religious or ethnic minority.

These discussions frequently play out in the context of public school activities. Children are required to be in school. I know there's the argument that kids can be sent to a private school, but which families in most school districts are least able to send their kids to a school they have to pay for? Attendance at public school becomes effectively non-voluntary. So again, I try to be very introspective as to whether changing policy in public school to reasonably accommodate the needs of a minority is really harmful to me and my family.


apple44 said:
As someone has already suggested, I think there's more to some of the parents' objections than religion. For some parents with limited budgets, they perceive the parade as a "competition" where their kid will fall behind. For a few, it's just a hassle for them to send the kid to school with both "real" clothes and a costume with a lot of pieces which will be lost. I can see both sides - the parade is fun for some and a way to show off a costume they've worked hard on. For others, it's a logistical pain in the butt, one more thing on a seemingly endless "to do" list.

This is true as well, while a large segment is for religious reasons, there are several other reasons for non participation, including cultural and financial.


dave said:
Anyone who thinks Halloween promotes religion is being willfully obtuse.

Or has some other silly agenda.


mamabear said:


h4daniel said:
It is about changing a school's culture to fit a minority's religious objections. Do you start ending birthday celebrations because a relgious minority does not believe in celebrating birthdays?
Sorry but our schools culture has very little to do with a one hour Halloween party / parade. It is one of inclusiveness. No child should be made to feel like a minority or segregated in their own school.

So the answer is yes, then. How sad.


ctrzaska said:


mamabear said:


h4daniel said:
It is about changing a school's culture to fit a minority's religious objections. Do you start ending birthday celebrations because a relgious minority does not believe in celebrating birthdays?
Sorry but our schools culture has very little to do with a one hour Halloween party / parade. It is one of inclusiveness. No child should be made to feel like a minority or segregated in their own school.
So the answer is yes, then. How sad.

I was addressing the issue of school culture not birthdays. It is comparing apples to oranges since birthdays are not school wide celebrations nor do they force children out of a classroom for an extended period of time. As it is, class celebrations of birthdays vary from classroom to classroom and we have had years where teachers had very specific guidelines as to how they would be celebrated.


Why would school culture and an overriding desire for inclusiveness not extend to the individual classrooms? Surely the same socio-economic and religious objections exist for the celebration of birthdays (not to mention the poor souls who by the stroke of fate have theirs over summer), but these we leave to the teachers to decide if any given child gets ostracized or otherwise not "have any fun"?


ctrzaska said:
Why would school culture and an overriding desire for inclusiveness not extend to the individual classrooms? Surely the same socio-economic and religious objections exist for the celebration of birthdays (not to mention the poor souls who by the stroke of fate have theirs over summer), but these we leave to the teachers to decide if any given child gets ostracized or otherwise not "have any fun"?

As I see it, a child doesn't need to be removed from class and separated from their classmates for a birthday to happen. And not sure if this is everywhere, but usually these "celebrations" consist of handing out a cupcake (or more likely a healthy snack), wishing the kid a happy birthday, and moving on which takes all of about 5 minutes. Secondly, to my knowledge there aren't any kids who aren't allowed to celebrate birthdays (as in their parents have specifically asked that there child not be allowed to participate). I know there are religions that don't celebrate them but I haven't come across any instance where a child where participation is banned. So to ask the what ifs and to make up instances that aren't occurring is a moot point.

Simply put, if you were an organization that had the ability to only do a certain amount of events, wouldn't you choose to do those that all of your members benefited from. With limited resources we look to provide experiences which all the kids can enjoy and also perhaps ones that they couldn't experience elsewhere. Really that's all there is to it.


mamabear said:


h4daniel said:
It is about changing a school's culture to fit a minority's religious objections. Do you start ending birthday celebrations because a relgious minority does not believe in celebrating birthdays?
Sorry but our schools culture has very little to do with a one hour Halloween party / parade. It is one of inclusiveness. No child should be made to feel like a minority or segregated in their own school.

It is the family's choice that causes the child to be segregated. If a child is made to feel like a minority in their own school because their culture or religious belief prevents the child from wearing shorts, should shorts be banned. If you need to wear shorts to safely participate in an athletic activity should the activity be banned. What about the end of the year pool parties. If some kids can't wear bathing suits should you cancel the party so no child feels segregated or a minority. We are all minorities. Honoring those differences goes both ways.


sarahzm said:

We are all minorities. Honoring those differences goes both ways.

OK, I'll bite at the "both ways". What has the majority group "given away" to honor a minority group's differences thus far?


Witnesses do not say the Pledge of Allegiance, vote in elections or participate in anything political, and used to not participate in competitive sports( they may have changed that now, as they seem to have changed the discouragement of kids going to college. ). When you follow a certain restrictive belief system, part and parcel of that is the daily scrutiny of others, and being set apart from your peers during those times when your beliefs result in you taking a different path. That is a daily occurrence with the Pledge of Allegiance, which is also not relevant to education, really. Sticking to your guns, whatever those may be, and for whatever reason you have them in the first place, can be tough, especially for children, but throwing the baby out with the bath water is a bit much, which is what it feels like in this case. At what point do some people's private choices begin to dictate public policy for everyone else? At what point is it the community's responsiblility to curtail it's normal activities in order to help a small section of children avoid a situation that might make them feel wistful or uncomfortable because of the paths their parents have chosen for them? Sarahzm cited numerous logical examples of where it could go, if you want to take it down that road


sarahzm said:


mamabear said:


h4daniel said:
It is about changing a school's culture to fit a minority's religious objections. Do you start ending birthday celebrations because a relgious minority does not believe in celebrating birthdays?
Sorry but our schools culture has very little to do with a one hour Halloween party / parade. It is one of inclusiveness. No child should be made to feel like a minority or segregated in their own school.
It is the family's choice that causes the child to be segregated. If a child is made to feel like a minority in their own school because their culture or religious belief prevents the child from wearing shorts, should shorts be banned. If you need to wear shorts to safely participate in an athletic activity should the activity be banned. What about the end of the year pool parties. If some kids can't wear bathing suits should you cancel the party so no child feels segregated or a minority. We are all minorities. Honoring those differences goes both ways.

Honestly, please read my other posts before coming up with these ridiculous scenarios. Are any of these actually happening? No.

Please read why we aren't participating in a Halloween parade. When we have the option to chose our activities we select the ones everyone can participate in. Ones that don't exclude students. There are plenty of them out there.

And with that I'm done as I feel I'm just starting to repeat myself. Plus I need to start baking cornbread for our SUPER DUPER Harvest Festival taking place tomorrow 12-4. Come join us and see what our community is all about! (Shameless plug)


h4daniel said:
It is about changing a school's culture to fit a minority's religious objections. Do you start ending birthday celebrations because a relgious minority does not believe in celebrating birthdays?

It's not about changing a culture to bow to religious objections.

It's about taking active and principled steps to create the kind of culture the school community (including PTA leadership) wants. In this case, it's one of unity, that brings large groups (the Halloween observers and the non-observers) together for something like the Harvest Fest, and forgoes the in-school celebration of Halloween which creates or reinforces divisions--and which does not have any clear or significant educational purpose.

It's also not making a blanket statement about Halloween celebrations generally, or at other schools which don't have a similar issue.


mamabear said:


sarahzm said:


mamabear said:


h4daniel said:
It is about changing a school's culture to fit a minority's religious objections. Do you start ending birthday celebrations because a relgious minority does not believe in celebrating birthdays?
Sorry but our schools culture has very little to do with a one hour Halloween party / parade. It is one of inclusiveness. No child should be made to feel like a minority or segregated in their own school.
It is the family's choice that causes the child to be segregated. If a child is made to feel like a minority in their own school because their culture or religious belief prevents the child from wearing shorts, should shorts be banned. If you need to wear shorts to safely participate in an athletic activity should the activity be banned. What about the end of the year pool parties. If some kids can't wear bathing suits should you cancel the party so no child feels segregated or a minority. We are all minorities. Honoring those differences goes both ways.
Honestly, please read my other posts before coming up with these ridiculous scenarios. Are any of these actually happening? No.
Please read why we aren't participating in a Halloween parade. When we have the option to chose our activities we select the ones everyone can participate in. Ones that don't exclude students. There are plenty of them out there.
And with that I'm done as I feel I'm just starting to repeat myself. Plus I need to start baking cornbread for our SUPER DUPER Harvest Festival taking place tomorrow 12-4. Come join us and see what our community is all about! (Shameless plug)

Thanks for your explanations. You rock!


callista said:
Witnesses do not say the Pledge of Allegiance, vote in elections or participate in anything political, and used to not participate in competitive sports( they may have changed that now, as they seem to have changed the discouragement of kids going to college. ). When you follow a certain restrictive belief system, part and parcel of that is the daily scrutiny of others, and being set apart from your peers during those times when your beliefs result in you taking a different path. That is a daily occurrence with the Pledge of Allegiance, which is also not relevant to education, really. Sticking to your guns, whatever those may be, and for whatever reason you have them in the first place, can be tough, especially for children, but throwing the baby out with the bath water is a bit much, which is what it feels like in this case. At what point do some people's private choices begin to dictate public policy for everyone else? At what point is it the community's responsiblility to curtail it's normal activities in order to help a small section of children avoid a situation that might make them feel wistful or uncomfortable because of the paths their parents have chosen for them? Sarahzm cited numerous logical examples of where it could go, if you want to take it down that road

Ok, last thing...once again, Halloween is not public policy, nor is it a district policy nor is part of curriculum. We aren't canceling anything, it's an activity we aren't doing. Also it doesn't make them wistful or uncomfortable, we're talking about kids, for some children they are downright distraught. So AGAIN, when faced with a choice of activities to participate in, why would we chose to do something that doesn't benefit all our children. And if Sarah's examples are so logical can you point to instances in our district where any of these are actually happening?

Really I'm done


I do think it is very considerate, as well as a learning experience, for the school and classmates to consider other beliefs and try to make adjustments. As a purely logical exercise, I just wonder at what point does it stop making sense, or is the point that one should never stop going out of their way in order not to make others feel different? I guess that's an individual call, except when it isn't , like this situation, when the call has been made for you. We have a lot more pondering of this ahead of us as a country, I'm sure.


So 20% of parents object. The assumption is that all of the 20% are objecting on religious grounds. I really find that hard to swallow. There are many reasons that people may not want to participate, and religion is only one. For instance, some children may be frightened, some parents don't have time or energy to prepare the child, or some parents may be from other cultures that disregard American tradition.

But to turn this into a "20% of parents are religiously offended" argument seems quite misleading to me. And it is turning the problem into the same divisiveness that it claims to be avoiding.


mrmaplewood said:
So 20% of parents object. The assumption is that all of the 20% are objecting on religious grounds. I really find that hard to swallow. There are many reasons that people may not want to participate, and religion is only one. For instance, some children may be frightened, some parents don't have time or energy to prepare the child, or some parents may be from other cultures that disregard American tradition.
But to turn this into a "20% of parents are religiously offended" argument seems quite misleading to me. And it is turning the problem into the same divisiveness that it claims to be avoiding.

It is misleading, we are not, not doing Halloween because 20% of parents object but because over 20% don't participate and in a world of limited resources and infinite choices, we choose the activities that benefit all our students.

Done, really, seriously, somebody stop me


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