After forcing teacher to remove Christmas tree, school backs down

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BANGOR, Maine — When a high school teacher in Maine was told to remove a Christmas tree from her classroom on Friday, she reluctantly obeyed. But she voiced her frustration in a recent Facebook post that gathered a lot of attention. After a public backlash over the weekend, school officials let the tree stand.

Catherine Gordon, a math teacher at Bangor High School, was told in an email from the principal to remove her 32-inch tall pink Hello Kitty Christmas tree. Gordon’s seasonal decorations have become an annual tradition for her for the past 30 years, with the tree included almost every year, according to WLBZ-TV.

“I feel that this is definitely a turning point in our society—when everything offends everyone all the time—it just sucks the joy out of everything,” Gordon posted on Friday.

Gordon noted that the tree had no religious symbols on it whatsoever, and that the students enjoyed it.

The local news media took notice and followed up with Gordon.

“It just seems that in our quest to be tolerant of everything, we’ve become intolerant to everything,” an emotional Gordon told the Bangor Daily.

Then a Bangor elected official got involved.

Congressman Bruce Poliquin, who represents Bangor, urged administrators to reconsider. He also took to Facebook to take a stand.

He also said in an official statement that “our local school teachers and parents should have the ultimate say in how to run their classrooms so long as it does not pose any danger to students or the community.  I find the School Department’s decision baseless and completely counter to all that our Nation stands for.”

“Eliminating safe decorations from classrooms, something we all grew up with, is going too far,” Poliquin added.

Bangor School Superintendant Betsy Webb said in a statement to WLBZ-TV that the school’s goal is to remain consistent with state and national standards.

“In alignment with national and state standards, the Bangor School Department educates students about culture, traditions, and holidays through curriculum ties,” Webb said.

The story quickly spread online. On Tuesday, Gordon said the principal called her into a meeting and informed her the tree would be allowed to stay.

Gordon gave her thanks to the support she got from her community.