Nova Scotia

Parents lobby to 'save' Mother's and Father's Days at N.S. school

A group of parents in Dartmouth, N.S. is lobbying Astral Drive Elementary to recognize Mother's Day and Father's Day.

Dartmouth school stopped celebrating individual days following complaint from same-sex couple

Parents in Dartmouth, N.S., lobby an elementary school to recognize Mother's Day and Father's Day, after a same-sex couple pushed for their removal in 2011 2:03

A group of parents in Dartmouth N.S. is lobbying Astral Drive Elementary to recognize Mother’s Day and Father's Day.

The school hasn't helped students make cards or gifts for Father's Day or Mother's Day since 2011.

The school instead decided to celebrate International Day of Families on May 15, after a same-sex couple with a child at the school pushed for the change.

Jill Wournell, who was president of the school's parent-teacher organization for the last seven years, says she decided not to run for the job again because of the school's stance. (CBC)

The couple expressed to school officials that their daughter didn't feel comfortable participating in either Mother's or Father's Day activities at school.

Jill Wournell, who has been president of the school's parent-teacher organization for the last seven years, said she decided not to run for the job again because of the school's stance.

"With the issue that we're talking about today going on, I'm stepping back from that. I will not have any functions within the school other than if they needed someone to go on a class trip with my own children — that's about the only position I'm willing to take on at this point because I'm very upset about the removal of Mother's Day and Father's Day at Astral Drive," she said.

"Taking away Mother's Day and Father's Day is not the way to do it. I'm for the inclusion of a family day, but not the exclusion of Mother's Day and Father's Day."

Michelle Allaby, a mother of three children, two of whom attend the Astral Drive school, encourages her children to make Father’s Day crafts ahead of Sunday, especially since the school no longer participates.

"For the little kids, it's about the cards and the crafts. But that's not even the issue, it's what those traditions mean," she said.

Last month, Allaby started a petition to "save" Mother’s and Father’s Day. She said more than 600 people have signed the petition submitted to the school last Thursday.

Doug Hadley, a spokesperson for the school board, said the school understands that not everyone is happy about the change.

He said the decision was not part of school board policy and that it defers to individual schools to make decisions such as these.

"I think the plan is they're going to have a review of this for next year, in terms of how they might be able to mark those days, but also recognize that not everybody celebrates in a traditional family structure," said Hadley.

Allaby said she and other parents just hope they're included in those discussions.

Astral Drive Elementary Principal Ruth Bond declined an interview and said she will be communicating directly with parents and guardians on the issue.

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