In a desperate attempt to avoid providing equal recognition to all religions, a Maryland school district is removing all religious holidays’ names from its calendar. Currently, the district lists religious holidays like Christmas and Yom Kippur, but after Muslims asked that one of their holidays be recognized as well, the school system panicked.
Leaders in the Muslim community asked that their faith’s holidays, such as Eid al-Adha, receive fair and equal treatment from the Montgomery County school system, which eagerly recognized Christian and Jewish holidays.
On Tuesday, the Board of Education decided that the solution to this obvious threat is to simply remove holiday names from the calendar. Students will still be out of class on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Christmas, and Easter, but those holidays won’t be named. Problem solved, right?
“Currently, the thousands of Muslim staff and students (within Montgomery County Public Schools) have to choose between their education and observing their religious practices,” the Equality for Eid Coalition said in a statement. “They either skip school (an excused absence) to celebrate Eids or they skip their religious observances to attend school. Many choose to do the latter. However, this is not a choice that, for the most part, our Christian and Jewish neighbors face on their high holidays.”
“By stripping the names Christmas, Easter, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, they have alienated other communities now, and we are no closer to equality,” coalition co-chairman Saqib Ali told The Washington Post. “It’s a pretty drastic step, and they did it without any public notification.”
But to the board, this solution is entirely sensible. “This seems the most equitable option,” board member Rebecca Smondrowski told The Post.
To students, however, this is an early lesson in discrimination. “Sometimes I don’t like it because everybody gets their days off and whenever I have celebrations, I don’t get off,” 9-year-old student Mussa Siddique said of the practice of recognizing Christian and Jewish holidays, but not Muslim ones.
To others, this is political correctness gone awry. “They’re trying to be politically correct so they don’t offend anybody,” he said. “But let’s be real here; they’re going to offend a few people. People always get offended,” said the student of a parent who feels faith is “the glue that keeps our society together.”
No matter how you slice it, nothing has changed. The discrimination has just been hidden.