(The Daily Signal) – A local school district in Pennsylvania acted to forbid school bus drivers from putting up Christmas decorations.
On Friday, just over a week before Christmas, the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, issued a memo to school bus drivers saying: “If you have decorated your bus with anything specific to the Christmas holiday or any other decorations relating to a specific religion, please remove them immediately.”
The memo concludes: “In addition, employees are instructed not to wear clothing related to Christmas or any other religious holiday.”
According to the memo, school district leadership “has been receiving complaints from parents concerning district employees displaying ‘Christmas’-themed decorations and/or wearing clothing of the same nature.”
A note adds that the policy is not specific to school bus drivers, but “APPLIES TO ALL DISTRICT EMPLOYEES.”
According to reporter Chris O’Connell of Fox 29 Philadelphia, who shared the memo on social media, school bus drivers have responded with variations of “Bah humbug.”
Commenting to The Washington Stand, Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for education studies at Family Research Council, asked:
Are there drivers with Pride flags? BLM flags? Culturally sensitive flags of other nations? Just what kinds of personal expressions are OK in the school district? … When even the commercialized and virtually religion-free Christmas observance is disallowed, we have lost all sense of identity as Americans and certainly Western civilization. Woe to the bus driver who tries to create an atmosphere of joy, peace, and love for the children on his or her bus.
Joseph Backholm, Family Research Council’s senior fellow for biblical worldview, told The Washington Stand that the Pennsylvania school district’s ban on Christmas decorations is “an issue of people in leadership who always follow rather than lead.”
“The school district apparently received a complaint from someone that a bus driver was spreading too much Christmas cheer,” Backholm said, “and instead of telling that parent they encourage every bus driver to be as festive as possible, they decided it was their job to protect the emotionally fragile.”
Although Christmas is named explicitly in the memo, Backholm noted, the inclusion of “any other religious holiday” was “certainly done on the advice of their lawyers, because it would be illegal to just ban Christmas displays and clothing.”
“There’s nothing illegal about employees who wear holiday clothing at work, which is why we see it all the time. But in this case, the school district decided to side with the complaints of the few against the joy and celebrations of the many,” Backholm said. “We now live in a world where some people are looking for reasons to be offended and they often find reason to be offended in the joy of others. The public square will once again be open once we stop pretending people have a right not to be offended by things.”
According to Fox 29 Philadelphia, the school district clarified Friday night that its intent was “not clear” and reversed the ban on holiday decorations and clothing, emphasizing instead a need for bus drivers to create “an inclusive environment.”
“The parents who want to remove the decorations should spend a week on the bus to see what kind of environment their children and the bus drivers experience daily,” Kilgannon said. “Parents know that in many school districts bus discipline is nonexistent and enforcing any behavioral norm is often punished—by just this kind of complaint. Taxpayers on the other hand who have no kids in school have no idea that this kind of situation is funded by their generosity.”