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Southern Lehigh’s School Calendar Should Take More Non-Christian Holidays Into Consideration

Christian holidays are usually the only holidays acknowledged by many schools for time off.

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Christian holidays are usually the only holidays acknowledged by many schools for time off.

Erin Noneman, Staff Reporter

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The U.S. Constitution allows us a line to frankly celebrate and talk about our religions in the open, and enjoy them as we should. But how does that translate to school holidays? In our school district, we currently have off for religious holidays mainly pertaining to Christian celebrations, including Christmas and Easter, among others.

In the late 90s, a court case was filed in concern for the high number of students absent on religious holidays that fell on school days. The state’s American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), sued the Sycamore School District for not giving holidays off for students who follow Islam or Hinduism, despite the large number of students who missed school.

So, why do school close for some holidays but not others? This could be due to the fact that some schools have more students who follow certain religions, but why don’t we still acknowledge those important holidays, out of respect and realization that many will be out of classes anyway?

Our religious holidays are meant to give us time off, to spend that time at home with our families. Wouldn’t it make sense for people of other religions to have that same level of respect?

“For kids who are Jewish [and part of other religions], it’s unfair for them to have to go to class instead of staying home with their families,” junior Kierstyn O’Neill said.

For Jewish, Muslim and other religions’ major holidays, our school does not close. Often, if we do have off for a holiday such as Hanukkah, it’s because some days overlap with the time that students have off for the winter break that includes Christmas in December. But, for the most part, we don’t have off for many holidays celebrated worldwide.

Schools in other states and cities such as New York, where there are higher Jewish populations, have off for many Jewish holidays because there would be such low attendance on those dates from both staff and students.  

“I think that we should have off here,” junior Kiley Schlosser said. “We have off for Christmas and other holidays that I celebrate, it would be fair for them to also have off from school for their holidays.”

Some school districts say that not giving these holidays off is a sign of disrespect to the diverse students and staff who celebrate these days. However, within a school, there is a fine line teachers must obey between teaching about religion and celebrating it.

Religion is important in classes about international cultures and historical events, even current politics, as long as the study is comparative, and no one religion is endorsed over another. Realistically, that rule-of-thumb is easy to understand, and when it comes to school  holidays, the same logic should apply.

Despite the fact that we have minority of students who are follow religions other than Christianity, we should still be respectful and allow them time to celebrate with their families without having to miss a regular school day to do it.

“I feel like if we have [religiously diverse] students or faculty members in our school population it should be acknowledged and recognized,” art teacher Mrs. Courtney Bathgate said.

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Southern Lehigh’s School Calendar Should Take More Non-Christian Holidays Into Consideration