Inclusive Exclusions

In a decision that couldn’t possibly please everyone, the Hillsborough School Board recently voted to end vacation days for all religious holidays. However it came about, it was the right call. For the record, it came about because a group of Muslims had asked for a religious holiday not unlike those accorded Christians and Jews.

Given precedents such as Good Friday and Yom Kippur, it was not unreasonable. In the spirit of inclusion, the Muslims requested Eid al-Fitr, the end of their holy month of Ramadan.

But the Board made the right call, because it undid a policy that needed undoing. Purely religious-observance occasions should not be designated public school holidays. It’s not a matter of secularism run amok or suppressed religious expression. It’s a matter of what’s appropriate for a non-sectarian school system and, frankly, who’s next? Buddhists and animists might already have been queuing for their designated day of cultural bridge-building. And who’s to say what the perverse egalitarianism of atheists would have yielded?

And even more to the point, if there’s anything that our students don’t need, it’s more days off.

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