Recognizing Religious Diversity


Natalie Torres

A great variety of religious holidays are celebrated by our UHS community.

Maya Madhat, Staff Writer

*The opinions expressed within the content are solely the author’s and do not reflect the website’s or its affiliates’ opinions and beliefs.*

Many schools recognize Christian holidays, such as Christmas and Easter; however, schools often do not recognize or observe other religious holidays that are not rooted in Christianity. This is problematic because it can foster an inequitable learning environment for students who come from non-Christian backgrounds.

Schools should consider observing other religious holidays, such as Eid al-Fitr, Diwali and Yom Kippur by providing students with days off. Doing so would demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity and respect for the diverse religious backgrounds of students and their families.

“Getting the day off from school for a major holiday would add to the joy and fun that the holiday is meant to bring,” freshman Jana Ibrahim said. “Similar to when students get a long holiday around Christmas time, the feeling is way better knowing that you don’t have to worry about school and are able to enjoy the holiday fully.” 

Providing days off for religious holidays would not only show respect for the diverse religious traditions of students and their families, but it would also allow students to fully participate in their religious and cultural practices. This would help them to feel valued and supported in their school community, which can have a positive impact on their academic performance and overall well-being. Students have had to miss school to celebrate holidays, which negatively affects their experience and joy during the holiday season. 

“I missed school to celebrate Eid, as it was on a weekday,” sophomore Talia Ghattas said. “It was a major holiday that my family and I love to celebrate, but thinking about school and the work that I would miss took away from the experience, not allowing me to fully enjoy the holiday.”

Recognizing non-Christian holidays would allow students to fully engage in their cultural and religious traditions without feeling like they are being left out or pressured to choose between their religious obligations and their academic responsibilities. It would also help students feel valued and respected for who they are, which can contribute to a more positive school culture. 

Even if schools do not implement having days off for other major religions, teachers can take steps to lessen the amount of work given to students during holidays. This takes away some of the stress and anxiety students experience when they miss school. 

“I have not experienced a time when a teacher has limited work because of a holiday, besides winter break, but it would make missing school less stressful if they did,” Ghattas said. 

Many argue that providing additional days off for religious holidays would require significant logistical planning, such as adjusting the school calendar by adding a couple of days in, as well as ensuring that students have enough time to complete their coursework. However, these challenges can be accounted for with careful planning and coordination. Additionally, there are many different religious holidays throughout the year, and it can be difficult to provide days off for all of them. Nonetheless, schools could consider providing days off for the major holidays of the most commonly represented religions in their student population. For example, UHS has a significant Muslim population and could consider providing days off for Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Schools could also plan and make adjustments to the calendar to ensure that students have enough time to complete their assignments and catch up on missed work.

Schools should consider recognizing and distinguishing religious holidays by providing students with days off. Doing so would promote inclusivity, respect for diverse religious traditions and a more positive school culture for all students.