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Friday, April 3, 2009

Thoughts on Making Space for Non Mainstream Holidays by CFT

Why don't you just call the school when you have a religious holiday on a day school is in session?

Every year, I send an email (it used to be a hard copy letter) to all the teachers, principals, secretaries, and to the superintendent during the first week of school and list the "religious" holidays my children and I will be celebrating. I put "religious" into quotes because honoring the Earth through Native American spiritual ceremonies isn't really a "religion" but that is the best English word to use when relaying the importance of what I am doing. I helps people sort my tradition into the appropriate context "box." On these days my children and I stay home from school and celebrate according to our belief system with ceremony, family, friends, food, music, and gifts (this should sound somewhat familiar to the way people all over the United States and the world celebrate important religious and cultural events). I expect to be treated in a similar way as others who honor non mainstream holidays. This year, I even met with one principal at the beginning of the school year and explained my perspective on the religious holidays in person. Here it is, summed up, for you…

Why I don't just call them in and remind folks that it's a holiday? I feel it is then the SCHOOL's responsibility to make sure all necessary personnel are reminded to follow holiday protocols. This is my form of nonviolent resistance. Other people don't have to call in for Easter or Christmas because the calendar already accommodates them and validates their holidays. I deserve the same respect, especially since I have given written notice before the first holiday. In addition, if I am out with my kids doing ceremonial activities (or sleeping late, or out with family, whatever) I don't want to have to consider calling the school, too. It's not right on a holiday and I want to keep the day special in that way. It's the same respect that is given to mainstream religion. In addition, Jewish holidays, Chinese New Year, Muslim prayer rugs/space, etc. should be treated with the same respect, too. Once a school knows which of its students celebrates, prays, or pariticipates in something non mainstream, then accommodations should be made without further notification and explanation.

UPDATE - let's see what happens…

2011 Taino Summer Solstice Ceremony