HILLSBORO, Ore. – Officials in the Hillsboro School District contend they’re not banning Santa from school, they just don’t want staff using his likeness during the Christmas season.
“We will not be holding a door decorating contest this year,” district officials wrote in a memo to staff at area high schools. “You may still decorate your door or office if you like, but we ask that you be respectful and sensitive to diverse perspectives and beliefs of our community and refrain from using religious-themed decorations or images like Santa Claus.”
Hillsboro spokeswoman Beth Graser told WGRZ the memo was sent to secondary school principals because the Christmas door decoration contest made some people uncomfortable in years past, and the district wants to maintain “inclusive and welcoming spaces” for all, including students who don’t believe in Santa.
“We were NOT banning Santa, nor were we going to be the ‘decorations police’ and scold people if they happened to have decorations up that might be too Christmas-y … unless they were totally over the top,” Graser said.
“Quite honestly the ‘competition’ aspect meant that several of the decorations had gotten excessive,” she said of the door decorating contest. “As a result, we had some staff members and visitors to our building indicate that they were uncomfortable and didn’t feel welcome due to the overwhelming Christmas atmosphere that had been created.”
Graser told KATU the memo “went out as a notification to staff, not even parents, just to make sure they are being sensitive and thoughtful as they enter the holiday season.”
The news site reports several other area school districts have similar policies regarding Christmas decorations, including Portland Public Schools, Beaverton School District, North Clackamas School District and the Oregon City School District.
“We need to create inclusive and welcoming spaces for all our students and realize that many of our students – because of their religion, culture, or other beliefs – do not feel comfortable (and in many cases may not be allowed by their parents) participating in activities that are holiday-based or religious in nature, or being surrounded by imagery that is a direct affront to them,” Graser told WGRZ.
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Many parents who do celebrate Christmas believe the sanitized school holiday is an affront to their beliefs.
“I’m from that generation where we believe in Santa, and my kids believe I Santa, and they should be able to celebrate it,” one parent told KATU.
Another, Jason Ramirez, seemed to agree.
“If you are going to put a giant cross on the window that’s one thing, but I think Santa Claus is more folklore and American history than a religious symbol at this point,” he said.
Others sounded off about the school policy online.
“Freedom of religion is not the same as removal of anything related to religion from the public square, which is where I think this policy falls,” NEPguy posted in The Oregonian comments. “Put up a Santa Claus picture/display, but also a Menorah, crèche, etc. Very draconian policy that doesn’t seem to do any good here.”
“’Tolerance and diversity’ are a total joke – as the Left is now proving on a daily basis,” overseasbeav added.
“Just another reason Trump won. Keep it up lefties, you’ll just find yourselves on the sidelines longer,” StupidDucks24 wrote.
“It’s funny how much energy is put into solving problems that don’t really exist,” Kurt Steiner posted.
“Bah Humbug. How soon before the PC police force the removal of Santa from the shopping malls?” LC_Beach_Bum added.