Don’t crush Valentine’s in the name of equity


Not all of us love Valentine’s Day, but that shouldn’t mean everyone else can’t have fun.  

An elementary school in Kitchener decided to ban Valentine’s Day celebrations this year, citing inclusion and equity concerns. The school asked parents not to send children to class with candy or cards. 

Inclusion should always be a high priority, but not to the detriment of joy. It’s hard to get behind the idea that Valentine’s Day celebrations could cause real harm to students. Financial accessibility is a legitimate concern, but it’s not specific to Valentine’s Day.

Likewise, if children feel left out on Feb. 14, chances are they feel the same way on other days. Valentine’s Day itself is not a direct cause of inclusion issues. It’s possible to make the day more inclusive rather than outright banning it. 

Valentine’s Day has become one of the popular holidays most open to interpretation and can be celebrated in a variety of ways. Instead of banning something many children enjoy, educators could have taken the opportunity to teach basic consent, and help students learn to express themselves in a healthy way. 

If schools worry not everyone will receive a valentine due to financial inaccessibility, schools could provide the materials and have children make cards at school. 

We need things to look forward to at any age—especially in February in Canada. Taking a day of fun away from elementary school kids in the name of equity is the wrong approach. 

Of course, no one should feel forced to participate, but how many kids are really against a day where they get to have a treat and show their appreciation for their friends? This is an adult problem.

While not everyone is Valentine’s-obsessed, many people get excited to celebrate love of all kinds. Valentine’s Day isn’t just for white heterosexual couples. 

Valentine’s Day can be an opportunity to celebrate love for yourself, friends, family, or all three. Teachers and school leaders can shift the perspective to accommodate financial accessibility concerns and cultural and religious diversity. 

Christian holidays tend to take priority over others and that should change, but the solution isn’t to ban candy and cute little cards. There’s nothing stopping the school from celebrating holidays from other cultures and religions represented within the student body. Plus, Valentine’s Day as we know it is about as secular as holidays get. 

For kids who haven’t celebrated before, it’s a simple concept to explain. There’s no good reason for anyone to feel excluded.

Another argument in favour of banning festivities is promoting healthy eating habits. However, sweets are consumed for many different holidays and strictly regulating young kids’ diets could promote disordered eating, which is anything but healthy. 

It’s important how to teach kids how to show love in a healthy way. Cancelling Valentine’s Day won’t solve equity and inclusion issues that exist all year. 

Valentine’s Day is an opportunity, not a barrier to inclusion.

—Journal Editorial Board

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