Maine School District Bans “Non-Inclusive” Christmas Music on School Buses

Gorham School District initially banned all Christmas music from school buses, but school officials have since refined the policy to allow any "holiday" music that is "inclusive"

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Whether school bus drivers at several Maine public schools can celebrate the season by playing Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snowman during bus rides is up for debate as the school district formulates a new “holiday” music policy.

The Gorham School District imposed a total ban on all Christmas music in November after a parent, who does not celebrate Christmas, complained that their child had been victimized on a school bus by a Christmas tune.

Gorham School District Facilities and Transportation Director Norm Justice formulated the first version of the policy after school staff alerted him to the complaint.

Justice’s policy banned all “holiday” music on district school buses.

Emails reviewed by The Maine Wire show Superintendent Heather Perry has since worked with the district officials to refine the policy and add some nuance.

According to the latest version of the policy, as described in a Dec. 7 email, holiday music may now be played on school buses, but only if the songs are “inclusive.”

“What we agreed to do was to rescind the previous memo and instead to clarify with drivers that holiday music may be played as long as it is inclusive,” Perry said in an email to a Gorham resident.

Perry said the district is working to identify a handful of local radio stations to create a list of acceptable stations for school bus drivers to play while transporting students.

This new policy was developed by Gorham’s “District Leadership Team,” according to the emails.

“If those stations happen to play holiday music (which many do) then that is fine as long as they are on one of the approved radio stations,” she said.

“In the meantime, the message is to focus on inclusivity if music is being played at all and we are asking drivers not to play from their own playlists or phones,” she said. “Just radio stations.”

Perry did not respond to email and phone inquiries asking whether Rudolph, Frosty, Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer or Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel will pass the new inclusivity test.

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