A school district in Oak Lawn, Illinois, citing concerns for sensitivity to Muslim students, is debating the place of Halloween and Christmas celebrations in public schools.
Rumors of a total holiday ban angered many parents, who protested the rumored changes. "They're trying to take away holidays and stuff for the kids," said resident Gene Boerema, dressed in a Santa Claus costume.
The controversy comes after one parent wanted Ramadan decorations put up, decorations which were later taken down. Elizabeth Zahdan, a Muslim mother of three, also requested that her children be separated from other students during the Ramadan fast. Zahdan insists she did not want traditional holidays canceled. "We should educate our children about all the holidays, equally," she said. "And not favor one holiday over another."
Superintendent Tom Smyth said the school never intended to do away with Christmas and Halloween celebrations. But constitutional questions remain. "I go back to our policy which says that public schools are to remain neutral in this respect, he said."