An Inclusive Litany

12/31/02

Andrea Skoros, mother of two school-age children, filed a federal lawsuit against the New York City public school system, alleging that its ban on Nativity scenes constitutes religious discrimination. The Board of Education's lawyer responded: "The display of secular holiday symbol decorations is permitted. Such symbols include, but are not limited to, Christmas trees, Menorahs [sic], and the Star and Crescent [sic]."

But in nearby Yonkers, New York, public school superintendant Angelo Petrone sent out a memo early in December instructing teachers to remove all Christmas and Hanukkah-related decorations from their classrooms. After teachers abruptly removed their children's artwork from school bulletin boards, parents—none of whom had earlier complained about the decorations—responded with unbridled outrage. In reversing his decision, Petrone declared that he had only meant for teachers to "have sensitivity to the diversity in the district," and to use "common sense."

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