At a California elementary school, some parents are up in arms after the annual field trip to visit Santa Claus was canceled (video below).
Kindergarten students at Sartorette Elementary School in San Jose usually walk to a Christmas party at a coffee shop to drink hot chocolate and write letters to Santa. Although this has been a tradition for the past 10 years, it has been canceled after a Jewish parent said she didn’t want her daughter to participate.
Talia, who requested that her last name not be revealed for fear of harassment, said she did not like that fact that Christianity was the main religion given importance at the school.
"This is not a Jewish issue for me," Talia told KNTV News. "It’s an inclusion issue. […] When Christmas is given the same time, or less time, than American holidays, like Veterans Day, then kids don’t feel as American."
Before the trip was canceled, Talia tried to reach a compromise with the school by writing “thank you” letters to the owner of the cafe and visit Santa after school hours. Ernesto May, the owner of Big E Cafe, said several neighborhood schools visit the coffee shop and Santa’s hours could not be altered.
"I can’t get rid of Santa," May said. "It’s an unfortunate situation. Last year, we had 160 children come by to decorate the place, drop letters off to Santa and families donated toys."
Although several mothers have reportedly admonished Talia for her actions, she does have the support of some parents at the school, reports Mercury News.
"You didn't ruin Santa for anybody,” Katie, another mother, wrote in an email. "If parents want their kids to see Santa, they should be doing it on their own time, not on a school field trip."
Several parents at the school plan to visit Santa with their children during school hours, despite the trip's cancelation.
Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute in Washington, D.C., stated that canceling the visit was the right thing to do.
"This assignment is inappropriate in a public school," he said. "What is legal is not always right. […] You shouldn’t have a holiday experience that privileges just one particular religion."