Don’t mess with Christmas was the message dozens of Oak Lawn residents — including a man dressed as Santa — sent school officials after news got around that Ridgeland District 122 might pull the plug on holiday festivities this year.

The outcry appears to have registered. School board members decided to hang on to Christmas and Halloween parties after all, but only on the condition Ramadan and other Muslim holidays are celebrated, as well.

“Everything is staying the same,” school board member Dave Lis said. “Christmas is still Christmas, and Halloween is still Halloween.”

That’s good news to fifth-grader Samantha Ramirez.

“We should be able to celebrate our thing, and they should be able to celebrate theirs, too,” she said.

Earlier this month, the district’s top official called on principals to tone down holiday celebrations after complaints the activities offend some Muslim families.

Initially, principals at each of the district’s five schools were left to decide how that would shake out. But many felt that was an unfair burden to put on the school administrators, particularly in light of how contentious the issue had become. . .

Elizabeth Zahdan, a mother of three District 122 students, said she raised concerns to the school board in September, not because she wanted to do away with the traditions, but rather to make them more inclusive.

“Did I say ban holidays? I did not,” she said to the school board Tuesday.

“I said please help us stop the cycle of hatred. I said let’s celebrate all of the holidays.” (MORE)


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