After being asked to add an Islamic holiday to its official calendar, a Maryland school board instead decided to remove all religious references from the calendar. Not only was it a slap to Muslims but is actually the best solution to the problem of religious privilege in public.
Montgomery [County Maryland]’s Board of Education voted 7 to 1 Tuesday to eliminate references to all religious holidays on the published calendar for 2015-2016, a decision that followed a request from Muslim community leaders to give equal billing to the Muslim holy day of Eid al-Adha.
In practical terms, Montgomery schools will still be closed for the Christian and Jewish holidays, as in previous years, and students will still get the same days off, as planned.
School officials said the time off in December would become “winter break,” while the time off around the Easter holiday would be called “spring break.” Other days, such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, would be simply listed as a day when there is “no school for students and teachers.”
This is a typical response by members of the religious majority to the demand of religious equality in a public setting. If they can’t use the law to exclude other religions then it removes religion entirely.
In this case, by going to the trouble of excluding Islam from the school calendar, the Montgomery County school board is doing what all school districts should be doing and that is not referring to any particular religion by name in an official way like a calendar.
It isn’t the public school’s job to celebrate a particular religion. Either all of them are recognized or none of them should be. I prefer that none of them be mentioned by name on a calendar.
Just because the word ‘Christmas’ isn’t on the calendar doesn’t mean Christians can’t celebrate Christmas. The school board’s action isn’t taking presents away from children. [Sorry, Religious Right].
Calling the time out of school that happens in December a ‘winter break’ does nothing to diminish the Christmas holiday for those who observe it.
The real lesson the children should be learning about this particular struggle is that real equality means “all” or “none”.
That is a good thing.