By Lizzy Acker
Teachers and staff in the Hillsboro School District will have to come up with something a little extra creative this year if they want to decorate their rooms for the holidays. That's because, according to a memo sent to staff and shared by KATU, Santa Claus is off the decoration menu.
"You may still decorate your door or office if you like," reads the memo, "but we ask that you be respectful and sensitive to the diverse perspectives and beliefs of our community and refrain from using religious-themed decorations or images like Santa Claus."
The memo isn't unexpected. KATU said they found that Portland Public Schools, Beaverton School District, North Clackamas School District, and Oregon City School District all said they all have similar guidelines.
Beth Graser, communications director for Hillsboro School District, told KATU, "It really went out as a notification to staff, not even parents, just to make sure they are being sensitive and thoughtful as they enter the holiday season."
Some parents are not happy about the lack of Santa in the classroom. "If you're going to put a giant cross on the window that's one thing, but I think Santa Claus is more folklore and American history than a religious symbol at this point," Jason Ramirez told the station.
Santa Claus, for those who don't know (if you're a child maybe stop reading this sentence) is a mythical character that evolved from stories of a monk named St. Nicholas.
In a statement Wednesday, the district clarified their earlier statements saying, "we were not banning Santa, nor were we going to police decorations in our buildings unless they were blatantly over the top."
When asked if it was okay to decorate a classroom with Santa Claus, Graser responded, "I think the issue is more nuanced than that, which is exactly why we don't have a directive or policy in place on this topic. I would say it would not be preferred to have Santa and only Santa or only Christmas-related imagery up in a class just for the sake of decorating for the holidays, because that's not overly inclusive. However, if a class is studying Santa Claus as a symbol of American tradition or as a cultural icon, I could certainly see where there might be a display up in the class of the varying images of Santa over time, for example."
(c)2016 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)