Jennifer Sinclair, a principal at Nebraska grade school Manchester Elementary, has been placed on leave following legal threats from a Christian group over her decision to restrict the usage of Christmas and Christian-related themes and items in the school.
Sinclair was just on her first year as a principal in this primary school, located on the western side of Omaha, when this decision was made recently.
The controversy began when Sinclair sent a memo out to teachers, staff, and other school personnel regarding what practices would be considered appropriate within classes.
The memo, humorously signed by the unintended Grinch of the school, included a long list of items that were to be banned within classes.
These items ranged from images depicting Christmas or Santa, accessories associated with Christmas including Christmas trees, Christmas carols, and even candy canes, which Sinclair stated were historically formed in the shape of a “J” to represent Jesus’ name.
A claim made by some Christians, but one that is typically dismissed.
Sinclair also offered a list of more appropriate seasonal decorations and items.
This list included snowmen, penguins, snowflakes, hot chocolate, sledding, polar bears, and even yetis.
She also explained that the reason behind this ban was in order to promote a more inclusive environment for individuals and students of different religions, and requested that everyone follow it so she did not have to directly question any of her personnel.
Some parents took this memo quite roughly and were distressed by the newly enforced ban, and many decided to forward it to Liberty Counsel, which is a conservative Christian legal assistance organization based in Florida that works to represent evangelical Christians.
As a group, the Liberty Counsel has been known for its outspoken opposition against LGBT rights.
It has spoken out against state laws protecting LGBT individuals, including a law that restricts “conversion” forms of treatment from being performed on LGBT minors.
The group has also represented a former county clerk of Kentucky that had been imprisoned due to refusal to release marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even declining a court order to do so.
The Liberty Counsel has even gained a reputation with the Southern Hardship Law Center as an anti-LGBT hate group.
The center also notes that this organization has spread harmful misinformation and details.
As an example, the group has provided information that homosexuality is linked to higher incest and indiscrimination rates, even though no scientific proof of this exists – and, in fact, research and studies have indicated the opposite.
The Liberty Counsel, upon receiving information from concerned parents, sent a letter to the Elkhorn Public Schools district board on the 30th of November, requesting that Sinclair’s restriction be revoked.
Mat Staver, the founder and current chairman of the organization, threatened to submit a federal claim if the restrictions were not removed by that Monday.
Sinclair has since been suspended through administrative leave due to the fact that her memo broke district policy, which allows specifically the use of Santa, Christmas trees, and seasonal symbols that are not religious in classrooms.
For now, there is no word as to whether Sinclair will return to her job position after her suspension is over.