SCARBOROUGH (AP) – A parents group pushing for a little holiday spirit has begun a campaign to bring Christmas celebrations back to Maine schools.

The group, which says classrooms are lacking carols and festive decorations in December, has spent weeks meeting with school administrators to sell their cause.

“We just want the kids to be comfortable and enjoy who they are and where they come from,” said Lisa Lowry, one of the parents in the group.

Public schools nationwide have long wrestled with how to handle Christmas.

“It is something every school deals with even if it is not conscious of dealing with it,” said Stephen Wessler, an expert on civil rights who heads the University of Southern Maine’s Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence.

But Scarborough Superintendent William Michaud sees the issue in Scarborough as more of a miscommunication than anything else.

The school district in 1994 adopted what some considered a strict policy on the celebration of holidays.

The policy was rewritten in 2002 as part of a review of all district regulations, and the board took a less rigid stance, Michaud said.

The current holiday policy acknowledges “it is neither possible nor desirable for our schools to simply ignore religion,” he said.

The policy states that religious holidays can be acknowledged in schools, music and art with religious themes, and a one-hour celebration related to a holiday is allowed.

Lowry said the concerns of the parent group focus on ensuring that Christmas can be talked about in school and some of its traditions can be enjoyed.

This should not come at the expense of other holidays such as Hanukkah, which currently is discussed more than Christmas, she said.

“We just think everyone should be allowed to talk about something this big,” said Lowry, whose husband, Rev. Michael Lowry is minister at Black Point Congregational Church.

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