ADL Offers Schools Guidance for Negotiating the "December Dilemma"
New York, NY, December 1, 2003…Every December schools and teachers are confronted with the question of how to approach the holidays without favoring one religious faith over another or making some students feel uncomfortable because their religious background is different from others.
To help negotiate the "December Dilemma", the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has provided public schools and public institutions nationwide with materials and information on how to keep public recognition of the December holidays constitutionally permissible.
By offering guidance and providing information we aim to help schools and community leaders navigate through the intricacies of handling the December holidays in a constitutionally appropriate manner," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "We want to ensure that classrooms as well as the content of special events, concerts and programs held at this time of year are welcoming to all, regardless of faith or beliefs."
As a strong advocate for the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state, ADL routinely provides guidance to help schools successfully address common questions and concerns in regard to the "December Dilemma." At this time of year, the League fields more requests on church-state issues than at any other period.
A letter sent to school districts nationwide and distributed through ADL's 30 regional offices, emphasizes the need for schools to be cautious in how they choose to employ religious symbols and teach about the holidays. "Schools must be careful not to cross the line between teaching about religious holidays (which is permitted)," the letter sates, "and celebrating religious holidays (which is not)."
Some of the 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
The League will also place special emphasis on classroom and educational issues surrounding the "December Dilemma" on its Web site. 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.