A Canadian elementary school is under social media fire for canceling activities designed to celebrate Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day in the name of inclusivity.
Albert McMahon Elementary School, located in Mission, British Columbia (BC), sent a letter home May 1 with first and second graders notifying parents of their decision to nix any classroom gift-making for Mom (and later, Dad) this year.
“As Mother’s Day and Father’s Day approach, we have met as a Primary (Grade 1 and 2) team to discuss our core values,” the letter read. “In an effort to celebrate diversity, inclusivity, and also nurture our students who are part of non-traditional families, we have decided to encourage those celebrations to take place at home. Due to this, the children will not be making gifts at school to give on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. We feel each family knows the best way to celebrate with their own family.”
Roy Glebe, a parent at the school, sparked the intense criticism online by sharing the letter on his Facebook. He expressed his negative opinion of the decision, writing:
“I think disappointed is an understatement. This will be the first year that we don’t get gifts crafted with love from our kids, and since we only have one little one now it makes it all that much worse. I don’t understand why we, as Canadians, need to give up our traditions that have been passed through generations. I welcome all races and ethnicities, but forcing us to give up things that are important to us as Canadians is crap. And it doesn’t even have anything to do with religion? You can’t celebrate your Mom and Dad?”
Another person added to Glebe’s commentary, writing: “There is no better feeling than watching the pure excitement and pride in your child when they give you the treasure they lovingly made for you. The secret work at school finally unveiled; I will miss it.”
Commenters on Glebe’s post were divided, although online opinions jumped to attacking the school and calling it a war on the family. As one site said, “Thanks for your permission to celebrate Mother’s Day at home, especially after giving my child the message that Mother’s Day is not okay. If the ideologues are not trying to cancel Mother’s Day, they are degrading it, and motherhood and family life along with it.” This sentiment was echoed by so many that the superintendent of the BC school, Angus Wilson, started interviewing with local news in an effort to combat the negativity- and provided the real reason the school was doing away with Mother’s Day crafts this year.
“Two classes chose not to do a Mother’s Day thing due to a trauma at the school,” he told reporters. “The reasoning wasn’t some cabal or some political plan. Instead, there has been a recent trauma involving a student and its parents.” He added that he could not disclose the nature of the trauma due to student confidentiality rules. “The messaging home was not great,” he lamented as well. But given that Mother’s Day is not an official holiday, teachers are completely within their rights to drop these activities from their plans as they are not part of the school curriculum.
“There’s no politically correct plan,” he repeated in a different phone interview. “We’re not shooting the Easter Bunny.”
The Easter Bunny is probably a bad example since Easter is a highly contentious holiday, but I can understand Wilson’s frustration. This is just another example of the internet mob getting ahead of the facts. On the surface, it seems like PC-nature gone too far, but once new information comes to light, I don’t understand how anyone can continue to be angry. Of course, I’m not a parent, but when you find out that the decision was made to help and protect the emotional state of a child, don’t you feel just a little bit of sympathy? Or are you so self-centered that you want your child to make you craft gifts at the expense of the vulnerability of a child the same age as yours?
Look, the whole situation could have been handled much better. But I can see where the teachers and administrative staff were coming from. As Facebook user Amanda Roste wrote on the original post of the letter, “As an adult living with the loss of a parent, I can’t imagine being in a room full of people making Father’s Day cards. I don’t think I could handle that at 30, let alone 10.” I have thankfully never lost a parent, but I still sometimes get choked up having to explain my back tattoo that I got in memory of my friend who passed ten years ago. Trauma is hard. Although we have no idea the circumstances of this child’s trauma, how can someone still selfishly make the situation about their loss of a construction paper card or popsicle stick picture frame?
I stand by the teachers’ decisions not to include the original reason in the letter home though. I’ve seen some online opinions that the school should have just been upfront right away, but can you imagine singling out the student like that? They obviously chose not to mention the student and trauma because that would only add to the child’s mental stress- they’d be blamed by name for canceling Mother’s Day and Father’s day in the local social circles. I am curious why the teaching team didn’t encourage the child to create a craft for someone else in their life i.e. guardian, grandparent, family friend, but I’m not presumptuous enough to think I know what’s best for a kid whom I don’t know.
And I think that’s what it really comes down to for me with stories like this: how the hell does the internet mob know what’s best for this child and the school? We most certainly need more details before jumping to conclusions. So calm your fucking hormones, online world. This isn’t a war on mothers and fathers. It’s basically just one small elementary school trying to help one of their students get through a tough time. And if more teachers and schools took that kind of care and interest in our kids, we’d probably have much smaller raving internet mobs crucifying people over snippets of a situation from a much larger picture.