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Parents rally after Canadian elementary school bans Mother's Day and Father's Day celebrations

Published: Monday, June 17 2013 2:50 p.m. MDT

Parents are rallying to reinstate Mother's Day and Father's Day celebrations at an elementary school in Canada after the school replaced the holidays with a more inclusive 'International Day of Families.'

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HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — Parents at an elementary school in Canada are rallying together to "save" Mother's Day and Father's Day.

Astral Drive Elementary School in Halifax, Nova Scotia, removed all Mother's Day and Father's Day celebrations in 2011 and replaced them with an "International Day of Families," which was celebrated May 15. The annual event is recognized by the United Nations.

The change in policy reportedly came after a same-sex couple complained about the separate Mother's Day and Father's Day holiday celebrations at the school. The couple expressed to school officials that their daughter didn't feel comfortable participating in either Mother's or Father's Day activities at school, CBC News reported.

Several parents are upset, citing the change as unneeded and over-the-top. This month, a group of parents decided to make a stand. More than 600 people signed a petition that was delivered to the school last week, demanding that Astral Drive Elementary School reinstate Mother's Day and Father's Day activities. Online, 245 supporters have signed a petition for the cause.

Michelle Allaby told CTV News she does not have a problem celebrating the family day, but feels Mother’s Day and Father’s Day shouldn’t be abolished at the school.

"They weren’t allowed to make a card or a craft at Mother’s Day," said Allaby. "So, I asked my friends that go to schools in the neighboring area, and they said yes, that their child had come home with a Mother’s Day card or craft, and it was a little upsetting to me."

One of the petition leaders, Heather Bruce, a single mother with an 11-year-old son who attends Astral Drive Elementary, told Global News that recognizing Mother's Day and Father's Day is important for children.

"My son, this year was the first year in six years I didn’t receive a card from him because there’s no one else telling him that that it’s Mother’s Day. Those things are important to teach our kids. To honor, respect their parents and they get that from school, sometimes."

However, some parents do approve of the change.

"I think it’s a great idea because of the diverse families that there are today," Colleen Ferguson told CTV News.

"I am the head of a single-family home, and I am mother and father," said Shirley Owen to CTV.

Doug Hadley, spokesman for the school board, said that the decision was not part of school board policy, and that excluding Mother's Day and Father's Day celebrations was left up to individual schools.

"I think the plan is they're going to have a review of this for next year, in terms of how they might be able to mark those days, but also recognize that not everybody celebrates in a traditional family structure," Hadley said.

School principal Ruth Bond sent a phone message to parents Thursday. The message noted that the school would not be reversing policy for Father's Day, as the petition asked. However, she suggested the policy might be under review for the 2013-14 school year.

"It was never our intention to hurt the feeling of our parents and guardians. Our intention has always been and always will be to have all students feel safe and accepted. If we have done that in a way that has not honored the community, we apologize."

Email: crenouard@deseretnews.com

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