ELKHORN, Neb. — The principal of an elementary school near Omaha, Nebraska admits that she may have, "stumbled over a big rock" in banning several elements of Christmas in order to be "inclusive and culturally sensitive".
Manchester Elementary School Principal Jennifer Sinclair in Elkhorn, Nebraska may be on the 'naughty list' after enacting a ban on certain things tied to Christmas like Santa Claus, Christmas trees, candy canes, etc. However, approved things include "snow people", "gingerbread people", snowflakes, Yetis, and "Olaf" from the movie "Frozen".
The ban brought inevitable grumblings, so she sent out a memo explaining her move.
“I have unknowingly awoken a ‘sleeping giant’ with many of you. I apologize for the stress that ‘Christmas/holiday/Grinch/Santa/tree’ emails and conversations have caused you,” Sinclair wrote. “I will do my best to communicate the expectation from here on out, which aligns with my interpretation of our expectations as a public school who seeks to be inclusive and culturally sensitive to all our students.”
"I feel uncomfortable that I have to get this specific, but for everyone's comfort, I will," she wrote.
Elkhorn School District officials, who say they disagree with her decision also acknowledge the principal went too far with the note.
In a statement they say, "the memo does not reflect the policy of Elkhorn Public Schools regarding holiday symbols in the school." The district has since clarified expectations and provided further direction to staff in alignment with district policy.
They say the issue was limited to Manchester Elementary and did not come up at other schools in the district.
Other “not acceptable” items listed included:
Making a Christmas ornament as a gift – This assumes that the family has a Christmas tree which assumes they celebrate Christmas. I challenge the thought of, “Well they can just hang it somewhere else.”
Candy Cane – that’s Christmas-related. Historically, the shape is a “J” for Jesus. The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection. This would also include different colored candy canes.
Red/Green items – traditional Christmas colors
Instead, teachers should focus on snow, different holidays, winter activities, and imaginary creatures.
“Acceptable” practices listed included:
Snowmen, snow women, snow people, snowflakes
Holidays Around the World – purposeful presentation of information to teach about different cultures
Scarves, boots, earmuffs, and hats
Olaf – Frozen