Boys and girls at a Massachusetts elementary school have been banned from bringing Valentine’s Day candy or cards over cultural equality issues and federal guidelines regulating candy.
Parents of students at Salemwood Elementary School in Malden, Mass, received a letter informing them of the policy – that impacts not just Valentine’s Day – but all holidays.
“We have many different nationalities, cultures and languages spoken,” Principal Carol Keenan told Fox News. “Because of that we don’t honor specific holidays.”
Keenan said she did not want some students feeling left out.
Malden is the second most-diverse city in Massachusetts and the school is home to students from 67 different cultures.
David DeRuosi, superintendent of Malden Public Schools, defended the principal’s decision – explaining that with new residents and new mandates “certain traditions we have to modify and adapt.”
“We’re always looking at how to combine the traditions that have been a part of Malden with its ever-changing face,” he told Fox News.
Keenan said they were not cancelling Valentine’s Day. Instead, the elementary school is going to celebrate a modified version.
“Every student is making a friendship card for another student,” she said. “I wanted to make sure that every single student is given the opportunity to get a card and to also give a card. I didn’t want some students feeling left out.”
She said she decided to send the letter after parents made inquiries about sending birthday balloons and birthday cakes to school.
“We just don’t do that because we want equity for all,” Kennan said.
DeRuosi said there are also strict state and federal guidelines governing what kind of food is allowed inside a public school building.
“No candy, no cake, no cupcake,” the superintendent said – noting their hands were tied. “You can’t send cupcakes anymore.”
Parents and local residents said they are furious at the decision.
“How does celebrating a holiday in the USA interfere with cultural and language equality,” a MyFoxBoston reader wondered.
Jean Balliro, now retired, said she taught second grade at the school. She fondly recalled Valentine’s Day events.
“They were so cute exchanging and reading the cards,” she said. “I am so glad I am retired. I don’t think I could stand all the bans in the schools today.”
Another reader noted, “It’s disgusting that all this political correctness is basically not allowing children to be children. What a shame.”
Keenan also addressed the language barrier – noting there are 400 students in the school who don’t speak English.
She feared they “wouldn’t understand the concept of having to bring a card or get a card.”
“It doesn’t take a command of the English language for a little kid to understand that they’re being given a token non-religious, non-holiday gift from another kid,” wrote one reader.