Originally Posted by GuildJenn
I guess in reading this thread I just had the thought that this is so much larger than the which-symbols-are-in-school issue.
I agree that the bullying is the core immediate issue.
But I also think there is a whole question here about dominant culture and minority culture. I really feel for the OP's child; I was 'that kid' at some points in my life (notably when my family spent two years as Jehovah's Witness sort-of followers and I went out in the hall for the national anthem). It was hard sometimes, and sometimes it was strengthening.
I do think that school, because it's children and because it's sort-of mandatory (homeschooling aside), is a place that has a responsibility to work hard on inclusiveness, modelling tolerance, and behaving sensitively. I hope, OP, that you and the school can work together on that. It is kind of lousy that it is often the minority voice that has to be raised, but you're already in that situation.
My own personal belief is that while out and out religious ceremonies should be banned (anyone else remember saying the Lord's Prayer every morning? We did in school. I'm not baptised myself, so it was really odd.), trying to "get rid of" ALL mentions of ALL holidays/trappings/etc. is destructive in the long run. It kind of forces a lot of the discussion underground, or people make ignorant assumptions based on lack of information.
I kind of like the model where instead of removing them all, you add as many as possible in. I think it is possible to engage with things in a way that doesn't make them "the only way." I wouldn't want books removed from a library because they mentioned Christmas/Ba'hai/Buddhism/Islam/Judaism and although I think decorations a bit different and need to be treated carefully, I guess I still think it's safer to INCLUDE than EXCLUDE.
So that would be my approach with the school - not questioning whether or not they have the right to put things up, but to ask them why they are the only things up and also, if you don't mind having the conversation, making them aware of how overwhelming it can feel from your perspective. I hope it works out!
Since in our area is very diverse (and has been for over 40 years) religious holidays are pretty much ignored in school. That doesn't mean that there existance is hidden, baned, denied, etc though.
There is one major problem with the whole "lets just have all the holidays represented
" philosophy. The reallity of it is that any non-mainstream-protestant-christian cutural beliefs get stretched to fit into the Christmas season and mindset.
A good example of this is how Chanukah has become a huge deal. Historically Chanukah is a very very minor Jewish Holiday, but since it is the holiday closest to Christmas it has become the main focus when people try to put up religiously diverse displays. Towns all across the country pop a menorah next to the tree, but how often do those same towns have Yom Kippur or Passover decorations?
Then there are always people who just don't happen to celebrate any of these holidays, like Athiests.
Students are welcome to talk about and share there holidays and cultural celebrations anytime they aren't engaged in other activities. The libraries have all kinds of books.
However, no instructional time is put into holiday activities and no holiday decoration put up by school officials (sometimes girl scout troops and such might do multicultural holiday themed activities.)
No body minds at all. Children can make christmas crafts at their church's religious classes. Other kids can make dreidels or menorahs during Hebrew class. Others go to dance classes to learn the dragon dance for New Years. Yada-Yada.
Accomedations are made to make holiday celebrations convenient, like closing the schools for Christmas or Rosh Hoshanah or letting kids fasting for Ramadan Have freeplay in a classroom at lunch time. There is a big difference though between accomidating, acknowledging a religious celebration and endorsing it.