Catherine Gordon, who teaches math at Bangor High School, has been decorating her classroom each Christmas season for the past three decades with a tiny pink Hello Kitty Christmas tree.
On Friday, Gordon received an email from the principal telling her the tree was inappropriate.
Her response neatly sums up the problem with zero tolerance policies, which have become a fixture in schools throughout the country. She told Boston NBC affiliate WLBZ:
I just think it’s because of the culture and our society now, that we are so afraid that it might offend somebody, that we have become so conscious of that, that in our wanting to not offend, we literally are being restrictive on everything now. It’s like nothing is deemed appropriate.
Gordon also poured out her heart on Facebook, posting:
The post has been shared over 1,000 times.
The attention received by the story, which has now appeared in some dozen different news outlets, prompted the Bangor School Superintendent to issue a statement, which reads in part:
In alignment with national and state standards, the Bangor School Department educates students about culture, traditions, and holidays through curriculum ties in English language arts, music, art, social studies, and world languages. Our focus is educating students to become global citizens with the necessary 21st century skills for college and career readiness for their future success. Maintaining consistency with this approach has not been an issue for the Bangor School Department, as faculty and staff are committed to what is in the best interest of students and working towards out mission of academic excellence for all.
A more perfect response is hard to imagine. It is typically (for this mindset) cold, detached, and antiseptic.