Par­ents protest Valen­tine’s Day party ban

Manteca Bulletin - - Nation -

EU­GENE, Ore. (AP) — An Ore­gon school board had to call off its meet­ing af­ter more than 100 an­gry par­ents stormed the dis­trict of­fice and yelled at board mem­bers.

The rea­son for Mon­day’s out­rage: No more school par­ties for Valen­tine’s Day.

In the past, stu­dents cel­e­brated Feb. 14 with the tra­di­tional ex­change of cards and candy. But the Bethel School Dis­trict in Eu­gene has been phas­ing out those tra­di­tions, The Regis­terGuard re­ported.

Dis­trict of­fi­cials said that orga- nized hol­i­day par­ties of­ten end up ex­clud­ing chil­dren whose par­ents don’t have the means to buy valen­tines, as well as stu­dents who don’t do well in a party set­ting or have a re­li­gious ob­jec­tion.

“As a pub­lic school sys­tem, we can’t in­ten­tion­ally plan events that we know will ex­clude chil­dren,” Dis­trict spokesman Pat McGil­livray said. “Schools are think­ing cre­atively about how we cel­e­brate with chil­dren and how we can have those ac­tiv­i­ties at school where every­one gets to par­tic­i­pate.”

McGil­livray said each school in the dis­trict is tak­ing a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to rec­og­niz­ing the virtues that Valen­tine’s Day cel­e­brates, such as kind­ness and love. For in­stance, some schools are hav­ing friend­ship week, kind­ness month and buddy days, he said.

But rein­vent­ing tra­di­tions doesn’t sit well with some par­ents. They noted that Bethel dis­trict stu­dents no longer wear cos­tumes for Hal­loween, and Thanks­giv­ing cel­e­bra­tions have been re­named “har­vest par­ties.”

“It’s not just about Valen­tine’s Day,” said Ryan Hosek, a par­ent of two stu­dents. “They’re iso­lat­ing the ma­jor­ity of kids’ feel­ings for the sake of a few, and that’s just not how the world works.

“The les­son to be learned is to ap­pre­ci­ate the dif­fer­ence and not ig­nore them be­cause they make a small mi­nor­ity of peo­ple of­fended.”

Though Mon­day’s meet­ing was quickly ad­journed, par­ents and oth­ers will have a chance to ex­press their opin­ions at a spe­cial board meet­ing Thurs­day night.

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