Bethel School District aims to make Valentine's Day celebrations all-inclusive

Some parents in the Bethel School District are upset that schools are changing how classrooms celebrate the holidays. District officials say they're finding ways to celebrate Valentines Day, so all students are included.

Posted: Feb. 9, 2018 9:17 PM
Updated: Feb. 9, 2018 9:19 PM

EUGENE, Ore.-- Some parents in the Bethel School District are upset that schools are changing how classrooms celebrate the holidays. District officials say they're finding ways to celebrate Valentines Day, so all students are included.

When parents said they heard Valentines Day was banned, KEZI investigated with the district. They said that was not the case. 

But, district officials say, they are adjusting the way holidays are celebrated in schools, to create a productive learning environment for everyone. In some cases, like Valentine's Day, that means swapping all-out classroom parties for events like buddy day, where everyone can join.

KEZI caught up with the district's director of equity, to find out why some students may feel excluded by the celebrations.

"It may be financial, it may be religious, it may be personal beliefs that don’t align. And I think it's our responsibility as a public school district to be very thoughtful about what we're planning in our schools,” said Tina Gutierez-Schmich.

District officials said if even one child or family feels excluded, that's one too many. 

Gutierez-Schmich said research shows parents may even take students out of class for the day, to avoid the situation altogether. That, in turn, effects thier education. 

She also clarified that children are allowed to bring valentines to school.

KEZI spoke to Lance Hughes, who has two daughters in the district. He said at first communication, he heard Valentines Day was cancelled altogether. He said that may have been a miscommunication, and he’s glad students are still allowed to celebrate friendship for the holiday.

Still, parents plan to voice their opinions at the school board meeting on Monday, February 12th.

The school board is open to hearing concerns, but stresses that there will not be any back and fourth discussion during that time.

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