ADL Offers Schools, Public Institutions Guidance for Negotiating the 'December Dilemma'
New York, N.Y., November 18, 2002 … With the 2002 holiday season set to begin, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has reached out to public schools and public institutions nationwide with materials and information to help foster constitutionally permissible recognitions of the December holidays.
"We want to work together with schools, parents and community leaders to ensure that classrooms as well as the content of special events, assemblies, concerts and programs held this time of year are welcoming to all, regardless of faith or beliefs," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "By providing information that minimizes any sense of discomfort during the December holiday season, we can help America's schools and public institutions approach the holidays in a constitutionally sound and educationally ideal manner."
As a guardian of the constitutional guarantee of the separation of church and state, ADL routinely offers advice and guidelines to help successfully negotiate court limitations and common questions and concerns in regard to the "December Dilemma." At this time of year, the League fields more requests for guidance on church-state issues than at any other period.
A letter is being disseminated through ADL's 30 regional offices nationwide to school districts, emphasizing the need to be cautious in how they employ religious symbols and teach about the holidays. "By choosing to celebrate certain religious holidays," the letter states, "schools run the risk of sending the message that they favor certain faiths over others."
Some of matters highlighted and explained in detail by ADL include:
- The difference between practicing religion and teaching about religion
- Guidelines for holiday assemblies, concerts and other public school activities where religious themes or music may be performed
- Choosing appropriate holiday symbols to decorate school grounds
- Choosing appropriate holiday activities
- Understanding what can - and cannot -- be displayed on city property
The League will also place special emphasis on classroom and educational issues surrounding the "December Dilemma" at www.adl.org/education. Among the many resources are non-religious materials and activities for the classroom, a detailed question-and-answer page and a printable graphic of acceptable public displays during the holidays.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.