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School District Removes Christmas From Calendar to Spite Muslims

Illustration for article titled School District Removes Christmas From Calendar to Spite Muslims

The Montgomery County School District in Maryland is taking the War on Christmas to its logical conclusion by removing the holiday from its calendars in order to continue to ignore the observance of Muslim holidays. Fighting the good fight.

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Muslim families in the district have asked the school board to cancel classes for Eid ul Fitr—a holiday observed at the end of Ramadan. A Muslim parent compared Eid ul Fitr to Easter or Yom Kippur, explaining that it is one of their most important celebrations. Students generally receive excused absences for religious observances, but that also means that classes continue without them.

As a rule, Montgomery County schools close for Jewish high holidays due to the area's high Jewish populations—they say that not canceling classes would result in attendance problems.

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This is the argument that the board is using to justify not allowing days off for Muslim holidays. They say that there aren't enough Muslim families in the area to justify closing the schools, although, arguably, that's not really what religious equality is about.

Instead of trying to come together and behave like grown adults to solve this disagreement, Raw Story reports the school board decided to behave like petulant children and basically put their fingers in their ears and screamed: "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU."

In response to the Muslim parents' concerns, the school board voted 7-1 Tuesday to support Superintendent Joshua Starr's recommendation to stop identifying religious holidays on scheduled days off but simply state schools will be closed on those dates.

Which is a Grade A asshole move and obviously solves absolutely nothing. Did the district's Muslim parents realize this? Of course they did.

"(They would) go so far as to paint themselves as the Grinch who stole Christmas," said Zainab Chaudry, co-chair of the Equality for Eid Coalition. "They would remove the Christian holidays and they would remove the Jewish holidays from the calendar before they would consider adding the Muslim holiday to the calendar."

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To be fair, I understand what the schools are saying about the attendance issue, but this in no way solves any of their problems. Removing the names of holidays from the calendar is violently stupid and continuing to insist that Christmas is a religious occasion for most Americans is even more stupid.

Even if adding Muslim holidays to the calendar doesn't make organizational sense for the district, to respond in this way is petty as hell and sends the message they're not even willing to at least humor a sensible compromise to the concerns of Muslim students and parents. Although, silly me, maybe that was the whole idea.

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Image via Shutterstock/Dragon Images.

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DISCUSSION

Was just listening to this story on Kojo Nnamdi (local NPR show in the DMV) and two things to note:

- While originally Muslim families wanted Eid ul Fut off, they actually asked for a much smaller observance. In 2015, Eid ul Fut and Yom Kippur fall on the same day. Since MoCo already takes Yom Kippur off, the Muslim families simply asked that on the school calendar, they mention Eid ul Fut in addition to Yom Kippur. It was in response to this request that the school board decided to stop mentioning any religious holidays on the schedule, even though everyone knows which ones they are tied to. So they didn't even ask for another holiday, just a mention. Which makes what the school board did seem even more passive aggressive, and explains why the Muslim families now feel like the school board is purposefully trying to troll them.

- The representative of the Muslim families on NPR noted that while the school board says that Eid ul Fut failed to meet the threshold for absenteeism to merit being made a holiday (meaning the school district looks at how many teacher and students take a day off for religious observance and will cancel school if it's enough people that it doesn't make sense to hold class), he also noted that the threshold isn't any actual number or percent. It's just that the school board looked at the numbers and said, "That's not enough." But the absences for other holidays apparently are enough. But no one knows what "enough" is. So Muslims in the county feel that the school board is keeping the threshold intentionally vague in order to preserve the holidays they like and avoid observing the ones they don't. If the board just had a clear threshold, this whole thing wouldn't smack of blatant favoritism of some religions over others.