Southampton schools add religious holidays back to calendar

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Officials have reversed the decision to pull religious holidays from the Southampton School District's calendars.

The move comes following an outcry from religious groups and others in the community. 

The calendar controversy began last year after about 100 people attended a March school board meeting to debate changing the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day. Members of the Shinnecock Nation wanted the name changed to celebrate everyone involved in America's founding, including Native Americans.

But many Italian-Americans in the district wanted to keep Columbus Day as a day to honor Italian-American achievements. In response, the school board removed the names of Columbus Day and all religious references in the 2017-18 school calendar. Many religious leaders in Southampton said that was unacceptable.

"I thought it was a travesty," says Deacon James Boyd, of the Southampton Full Gospel Church. "These were in our community for generations and that was the problem."

Boyd says religious and secular groups mobilized to restore the religious names on the calendar. In May, they voted in two candidates onto the school board that supported their view on the matter.

Columbus Day, which falls on Oct. 9, remains unnamed in the school calendar. The board will take up the matter at a later date.

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