Everything Is Offensive–Even Pink Hello Kitty Christmas Trees; UPDATE: The Tree Can Stay

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Dec 22, 2015 1:15 PM
Everything Is Offensive–Even Pink Hello Kitty Christmas Trees; UPDATE: The Tree Can Stay

Everyone is insanely offended by everything. That’s the only logical conclusion to this rather absurd story coming from Maine. The principal told a teacher at Bangor High School that her pink Hello Kitty Christmas tree needed to go. There were no religious ornaments on it. There was literally nothing offensive about this tree. It’s pink for heaven’s sake, but it’s been scrapped. The teacher, Catherine Gordon, had been placing a decorated Christmas tree in her classroom for the past 30 years (via Boston):

A Maine high school teacher was told in an email from the building principal to remove her pink Hello Kitty Christmas tree from her classroom—and she’s not happy about it, according to her recent Facebook post.

“I feel that this is definitely a turning point in our society—when everything offends everyone all the time—it just sucks the joy out of everything,” Catherine Gordon, a math teacher at Bangor High School, posted Friday night.

Gordon said she has decorated her classroom for the holidays for 30 years, with a tree as part of those decorations almost every year, according to WLBZ-TV.

“It just seems that in our quest to be tolerant of everything, we’ve become intolerant to everything,” an emotional Gordon said in a Bangor Daily News video.

Maine Congressman Bruce Poliquin, who represents Bangor, also weighed in on the removal of the Christmas tree on Facebook, saying that the display “should not be condemned, especially in our classrooms.”

[…]

Bangor School Superintendent Betsy Webb told WLBZ-TV in a statement that the school department aims to maintain consistency with its approach to educate students to become global citizens.

I’m still not seeing how a pink Hello Kitty Christmas tree torpedoes those goals. A Pink Hello Christmas tree is a threat to inclusivity? Dude, really?

UPDATEThe tree can stay.

Members of the Bangor Community and the Media,

I would like to clarify and resolve the situation that has brought a great deal of attention to Bangor High School this week while also sharing appreciation to students and staff for their continued sense of purpose.

On Friday of last week, a concern was shared with me regarding an inconsistency with our balanced approach to holiday observances, which I communicate annually. I contacted the teacher, shared and then clarified the concern about a classroom Christmas tree, and offered an opportunity to meet and discuss the situation in person. While this conversation ultimately did not take place, I did review various reasoned perspectives on the topic that have satisfied an important professional responsibility: to ensure that the sharing of any one tradition ultimately highlights the universal nature of holiday celebration. The Christmas tree that has been the focus of this discussion does so, and is therefore appropriate for the school setting.

Moving forward, I continue to believe that it is not only important but also possible to broadly discuss and observe traditions with the mindset that inclusive, planful consideration of many does not weaken any single one– a critical element of a balanced approach.

Sincerely,

Paul Butler

Principal, Bangor High School