School Bans, Then Decides To Unban Christmas Music

Evergreen Public Schools in Vancouver, Washington issued a memo in late November instructing school bus drivers to “refrain” from playing Christmas music while children are riding on the bus. The school district’s Transportation Director Yvonne Gaylord sent the memo on November 28,explaining that the district wants the students who don’t celebrate Christmas “to feel safe and comfortable.”

But in a matter of days, the school district “amended” the policy, explaining that bus drivers can choose to play Christmas music if they want to. Meanwhile, in a memo to county employees in late November, the King County, Washington Department of Human Resources warned county employees not to decorate their workspaces with Christmas or Hanukkah decorations to avoid offending others.

Gloria Ngezaho, the Workforce Equity Manager for the Department of Human Resources, sent out a countywide memo titled “Guidelines for Holiday Decorations for King County Employees” explaining that the country is “committed to honoring the diversity of its workforce.”

She urged county workers who plan to put up holiday decorations to “consider the likely effect” those decorations might have on the other employees “in and outside your work group.” The memo explains that those who don’t share the same religion or don’t practice any religion may not “share your enthusiasm for holiday decorations.”

While the county would permit religious symbols only within an employee’s personal workspace, they cannot appear in the background of an “employee’s virtual workspace.” The religious symbols that are not allowed include a nativity scene, a menorah, a crucifix, the star of David, or images of Jesus or Mary.

However, employees can decorate with snowmen, snowflakes, wreaths, or holly.

Pine trees can also appear “so long as they are not decorated with religious symbols.” All common areas must remain completely free of holiday decorations because they might “cause disruption to co-workers or members of the public.”