A school in Mission, B.C.'s attempt to be sensitive to students' feelings has been misinterpreted as an attempt to ban Mother's Day, says a school official.
Grade 1 and 2 students at Albert McMahon Elementary were handed letters earlier this week informing parents the school would not be making gifts for Mother's and Father's Day in an effort to celebrate non-traditional families.
Roy Glebe, a parent at the school, posted the letter on his Facebook page on Monday.
It sparked a heated debate about politically correct behaviour in schools which subsequently snowballed into online groups and broader media.
The superintendent of the district, Angus Wilson, has responded by saying the letter was well-intended but communicated poorly.
"The intention, as I understand it, has to do with a trauma that has been experienced at the school fairly recently," said Wilson.
"It has nothing to do with the value of Mother's Day or civic holidays."
The letter said the school's Grade 1 and 2 team had met to discuss its core values which led to the decision to nix creating gifts.
"In an effort to celebrate diversity, inclusivity and also nurture our students who are part of non-traditional families, we have decided to encourage those celebrations to take place at home," read the letter.
Wilson says teachers have the legal autonomy to decide what they do in their classrooms, when it falls outside the scope of teaching the curriculum.
But he recognizes how the letter could have been misinterpreted and there are lessons to be learned from the ensuing "blow-up."
"There's a few issues with how this was communicated out," he said.
"I'm going to be working with the school on how we communicate things home to parents and have an appropriate dialogue with them about things like this."