Hillsboro Bans "Religious Themed" Christmas Decorations (i.e. Santa)
An example of a Santa Claus-themed decoration, taken at the Bush Barn Art Center. Photo credit to Chloe Curtis.
Debate has sparked after a school district in Hillsboro has banned certain holiday directions, including Santa Claus, from being used around their school, in an effort to be aware of other cultures and backgrounds.
This memo was sent out to staff by Kona Lew-Williams, the Chief Human Resources Officer for the district:
“We will not be holding a door decorating contest this year. You may still decorate your door or office if you like, but we ask that you be respectful and sensitive to the diverse perspectives and beliefs of our community and refrain from using religious-themed decorations or images like Santa Claus.“
The memo was not sent to parents of students.
The communications director for the district, Beth Graser, claims that the announcement was so the decorations would be more inclusive of cultures and backgrounds in the community, allowing them to be comfortable at their schools. She also told WGRZ that the change was made due to their Christmas door decoration contest. Apparently the competition has gotten too agressive in the past, making some uncomfortable by the overwhelming Christmas spirit.
In response to a story titled “School bans Santa,” the district released a statement on Facebook.
“Even though we were extremely clear with the reporter that we were not banning Santa, nor were we going to police decorations in our buildings unless they were blatantly over the top, the story still ran with the “Santa ban” title.”
Some parents do not understand, while others do.
“If you’re 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,” parent James Ramirez said.
Several other districts in the Portland area have similar policies, including Portland Public Schools, and the Beaverton, North Clackamas, and Oregon City School Districts, according to KATU.
“Public schools are a bit unique because people have to go there and stay there for several hours every day.,” a press release by the Hillsboro district said on Facebook. “It’s not like a trip to the mall where you can choose to go in or not, or stay however long you’d like. We have an added responsibility to ensure the students feel comfortable and ready to learn.”