A School Canceled Mother's Day In A Step Toward Inclusivity, But The Internet Is Divided On The Decision

Making cards and crafts for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is a common activity for school children, but should those projects take place at home? Teachers at a Canadian elementary school think so. This month, the school cancelled Mother’s Day and Father’s Day activities in order to be more inclusive of non-traditional families. However, the decision has proven to be divisive, especially as coverage of the controversy has grown on the internet.

Recently, parents of students at Albert McMahon Elementary School in Mission, British Columbia, received a letter notifying them of a new policy regarding Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. It read,

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. 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.

Mission Public School District Superintendent Angus Wilson told KING-5 that the decision wasn’t politically motivated. “The reasoning wasn’t some cabal or some political plan,” Wilson said. “Instead, there has been a recent trauma involving a student and its parents.”

The letter was shared hundreds of times after Roy Glebe, a parent at the school, posted it on Facebook. Glebe certainly had a negative reaction to 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 dont 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 doesnt even have anything to do with religion? You cant celebrate your Mom and Dad?

Commenters on Glebe’s post were divided, though most seemed to feel that the decision to cancel Mother’s and Father’s Day activities went too far. Some acknowledged that having Mother’s Day and Father’s Day activities in class could be difficult and exclusionary for some children — like those who have parents of the same sex, those who have experienced the death of a parent, or those who, for whatever reason, don’t have a mother and a father at home. “[A]s 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,” one commenter wrote. “I don't think I could handle that at 30, let alone 10. I would probably vomit and leave that room in tears.”

Others, however, lamented the loss of what they regard as a tradition. “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,” one person commented. Another proposed having children make crafts for other members of their families, writing, “[N]ot everyone has this tradition but cancelling the creative process altogether for those who don't celebrate this tradition is definitely a slap in the face for those who do. As a preschool teacher, I have had many experiences with diverse families. I have always encouraged my students to choose a parent/guardian/grandparent or that someone who is special to them on these occasions.”

In an interview with the CBC, Superintendent Wilson said that there were “issues with how this was communicated.” He said, however, that the policy change “has nothing to do with the value of Mother's Day or civic holidays,” but rather was made in reaction to “trauma” experienced by a student.