In advance of the upcoming December holidays, the Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Regional Office sent over 300 letters to superintendents of public school districts in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. The letters included quick reference guides on how best to handle the upcoming “December Dilemma,” when many different religious holidays are observed and it can be difficult for public schools to know the best way to respectfully and legally address them.
The underlying principle concerning public religious displays and events is fairly simple: a public school must never appear to endorse or disapprove of one particular religion or religion in general. ADL advises that the classroom can be used to teach about religious holidays, but should not encourage the celebration of one religious holiday over another.
ADL has created a special December Dilemma website with information about the issues of religious freedom and expression that arise during the winter holidays. The website helps educators and parents learn how to help create a school environment that respects different points of view, religious beliefs and practices.
The website also has links to ADL’s free webinar entitled “The December Dilemma: Navigating Religious Holidays in the Public Schools,” and features additional information about Religion in the Public Schools, including religion in the curriculum, teaching about religious holidays and more.