Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Daily Dose of Religious Discrimination

We're having such a "fun" week in our family. First, the amendment, then sick kids, now Jani's school district has denied her taking Solstice as a religious holiday.

The school district's policy for years has been that if one's religious holy days fall during scheduled school time, the employee may get written permission beforehand to take the day and must "make up" the lost work time through other activities.

Apparently, unbenounced to anyone, the policy has now changed and this is the email that Jani received today.

I am in receipt of the religious absence request form for Janet toobserve Winter Solstice on 12/21/05. I am not able to grant thisrequest. The religious holiday has to be one in which the religious doctrine prohibits the employee from working on that date.

So here are my questions.
1. When did the administrator who sent the email become well-schooled in pagan teachings to know whether working on a sabbat is or is not part of the doctrine?

2. Could someone please point me to the passage in the Bible that declares that Christians shall not work on Christmas?

Jani immediately forwarded the message to her union. They are attending to it immediately and have a meeting scheduled with the district on Friday.

Meanwhile, we've filed for an excused absence for Rowan for Solstice and her school's secretary has already logged it on the calendar. Poor Rowan is bummng though, because she will be marked as absent and won't be able to get the "perfect attendance" certificates that the principal hands out at the end of the semester.

Rowan's very insightful observation was that kids who celebrate Christmas aren't penalized with being marked absent, because that day is marked as a "day off" from school for everyone.

I know this is an on-going battle that other religious groups have been fighting for years. Sad, sad, sad..that one form of "sacredness" gets to control expectations and calendars for us all. I'm completely in support of anyone taking their religious and secular holidays..tradition is what helps keep our souls fed. Just how do we create a "win/win" with this is the age-old question.


Kelly said...

Oh Denise this is such BS!!! Thank goodness that Jani has a Union that hopefully will fight for her. What I kept thinking about for some reason was that prisoners are allowed their religious freedoms in prison why the heck can't a law abiding family have theirs!! JEESH!!

I hope Rowan will talk to her school about feeling penalized for being excused for her religious holiday. How the heck is that fair? I can't see how a school official is able to explain that one to Rowan with a striaght face. Shame on them.

Hugs to you and your family. I'm sorry our world is such that living an honest life such as your family does causes so much grief. It just simply isn't fair.


Laura said...

That's just so insulting. If Jani asked for the day off to celebrate Hanukah would she have been refused? How dare they decide what religious practices "deserve" a day off or not. I really hope the union deals with it and that the school learns from this.

Sonya said...

Good for you for pushing the envelope!

Leandra said...

I would ask the correct "authorities" to show you where in the bylaws, statute/s and WHY it is there.(what year & who decided this:school, county, state???)

Then I would consider petitioning that "rule" by getting a ton of signatures with the statement that your constitutional rights (and possibly your civil liberties) are being denied because your faith isn't considered "recognized" because a parent doesn't refrain from work.

*My guess are they REALLY concerned whether you are working that day or not??? Beacause if so, then you can hire a sitter, family member, guardian to release your child in custody thereof (so your child won't be alone/unsupervised at home/wherever)

What about all the Christian/Other organized religion faith based waitresses that leave their kids with a "guardian/family member/etc." while they go out & work a fine dining gig so they can make a slew of cash to pay for presents or keep the lights turned on. Doesn't seem like there are "work police" out there to ensure all parents are at home with their kids because they are not working via a recognized "hoiday".

The only way it can change is if someone starts it. I bet your constitutional rights are being violated, because at least in the Military they have finally come to recognize pagan holidays.

I wish you luck, and light in your quest. Hopefully this situation will help shape your daughter's world in the recognition that when dealing with the mainstream, there must be tolerance of their stupidity and change is inevitable.

PS. There is a great deal of legal info in semi-related topics available to view at: they may be able to provide help, info or recommend a pro bono person.

Blessed Be.

Denise said...

Thank you folks for the good wishes. Leandra, thank you very much for the information and resources. We continue to pursue this and I'll update soon.