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Ontario school bans Valentine’s Day, arguing it harms equity goals

“While we recognize the celebration of Valentine’s Day and the popularity of this day, not all students celebrate it.”

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An Ontario elementary school canceled Valentine’s Day on the grounds that the traditional celebration of love could “negatively impact our families and students.”

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“While we recognize the celebration of Valentine’s Day and recognize the popularity of this day, not all students/families in our community celebrate it,” said a statement sent to parents and subsequently leaked to local media .

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The note adds, “It is important that all students feel welcome and reflected in the school and that our celebrations do not negatively impact our families and students.”

The school in question is the Jean Steckle Public School. Named after a prominent local nutritionist, it is an elementary school in Kitchener, Ontario with approximately 750 students. In years past, Valentine’s Day was an important part of Jean Steckle’s school calendar and was typically celebrated with crafts, decorations and the exchange of cards. In 2015, the school even organized a Valentine’s Day dance for seventh and eighth graders.

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However, in 2021, the school banned the bringing of paper Valentines onto school grounds on the grounds that they were “non-essential materials” that could serve as vectors for infectious diseases. For this year, however, it was reasons of health and justice that inspired a similar order.

After several Kitchener parents contacted local media to complain, a spokesman for the Waterloo Region District School Board told CTV that Valentine’s Day is a “financial drain” on families who feel compelled to buy “cards or candy.” to buy”.

The spokesperson added that advertising candy around the holidays “is inconsistent with Healthy Schools’ approach.”

Healthy Schools, as described on the official Waterloo Region website, is a program to “reduce health inequalities in the student body”.

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This is far from the first time the Waterloo Region District School Board has found itself in the midst of a culture war that has garnered national – and even international – attention.

Last January, at a board meeting, teacher Carolyn Burjoski was violently silenced and issued a “stay at home” order after she raised concerns about illustrated picture books in school libraries dismissing the medical side effects of sex reassignment surgery — or at one Lack of sexual thoughts can be a sign of an asexual gender identity.

“Maybe Rick (the protagonist in a book) doesn’t have sexual feelings yet because he’s a kid,” Burjoski said just before her microphone was muted.

The same week that Jean Steckle canceled Valentine’s Day, the board released a lengthy open letter in which it concluded that a delegation of concerned parents at one of their recent meetings was motivated by hate and transphobic bigotry.

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Parents had objected to a student census that explicitly asked younger students about their race and sexual orientation, and to a school policy to immediately accommodate a child’s request for gender reassignment surgery without informing the guardian.

“Hate, racism and xenophobia are not ‘opinions’ to be obtained through consultation,” the letter reads. “The hallmark of a democratic public education system should be that we serve all students well, especially those with the least power.”

Last summer, the board censured one of its only black trustees, Mike Ramsay, after objecting to lesson plans that encouraged Caucasian students to recognize their “white privilege.” “Most trustees see me as the wrong kind of black guy,” Ramsay wrote in an op-ed for the Waterloo Region Record.

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Valentine’s Day – like St. Patrick’s Day and the Fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste – has its origins as a Catholic feast day, with February 14 chosen to celebrate one of several Christian martyrs named Valentine.

Although there is no evidence that Valentines had strong feelings of love, it is believed that the holiday took on this connotation to act as a watered-down substitute for the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, which featured rampant public nudity and even communal orgies.

As Valentine’s Day has strayed further and further from its Christian origins, it has caught on in a number of non-Christian countries such as Bangladesh and Japan. Some notable exceptions can be found in the Islamic world, where observing the holiday is banned for allegedly promoting immorality and indecency.


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