CLAIM

At least one state banned Valentine's Day at schools because it is offensive to Muslims. See Example(s)

EXAMPLES
Collected via Twitter, February 2017

FALSE

RATING

FALSE

WHAT'S TRUE

In January 2016, a single school in St. Paul, Minnesota, discontinued Valentine's Day celebrations in keeping with a 2008 school district policy discouraging classroom observances (including birthdays).

WHAT'S FALSE

The policy was implemented at a single school (not statewide), extended to all non-federal holiday observances (not just Valentine's Day), and was not enacted due to complaints from Muslims.

ORIGIN

On 15 February 2017, the web site LibertyIsViral.com reported that the state of Minnesota had banned Valentine’s Day celebrations in public schools specifically because the holiday “offends Muslims”:

Guess Which State Just BANNED VALENTINES DAY Because It ‘OFFENDS MUSLIMS’ … SERIOUSLY

WTF?! SINCE WHEN DID AMERICA BECOME FILLED WITH THE MOST VILE OPPRESSIVE ASS BACKWARDS PUSSIES ON THE FACE OF GOD’S GREEN EARTH? THIS IS STARTING TO MAKE ME FURIOUS. AMERICANS NEED TO GET THEIR HEADS OUT OF THEIR ASSES AND THEIR KIDS OUT OF GOVERNMENT RUN SCHOOLS BEFORE THEIR CHILDREN ARE TURNED INTO SHEEP.

The Principal of Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Maul, Minnesota just sent a letter to parents noting that celebrations of Valentine’s Day are banned.

Why? Because it, along with other “dominant holidays,” are offensive to Muslims! … The principal went on to explain the holiday is cancelled as it violates some students’ religious beliefs. This is a reference to Muslims are not allowed to celebrate it. The romantic holiday is outlawed throughout every Islamic nation … Schools are never this sensitive to the needs of Christian students, but liberal school administrators will stop at nothing to appease Muslims. This is outrageous!

According to the misleading story, the principal at Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul, Minnesota, banned Valentine’s Day because it offends Muslims, as detailed in a Minneapolis Star Tribune article from 2016:

Celebrations of Valentine’s Day and the other “dominant holidays” are ending at one St. Paul elementary school, according to a letter from the principal addressed to families.

Principal Scott Masini of Bruce Vento Elementary School, whose student body is overwhelmingly nonwhite, explained in the letter that “my personal feeling is we need to find a way to honor and engage in holidays that are inclusive of our student population … I have come to the difficult decision to discontinue the celebration of the dominant holidays until we can come to a better understanding of how the dominant view will suppress someone else’s view.”

Masini said there will be no cards or treats brought to school to mark Valentine’s Day.

The letter listed the holidays that the East Side school will no longer celebrate as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Masini said the decision was made in consultation with his staff.

“One of the concerns that I have,” Masini wrote, “ … is whether or not this practice is encroaching on the educational opportunities of others and threatening the culture of tolerance and respect for all.”

Statistics provided in the article showed that Asian-American and Pacific Islander comprise the majority of the student body at that school, at 52.3 percent (a large percentage of whom identify as Christian). The second- and third-largest demographics were black (also Christian) and Hispanic students (again, largely Christian) at 35.4 and 6.9 percent, respectively.

Masini made no reference to Islam or any other religion in the entirety of the article, and the single sentence in the article about religious objections of any kind referenced comments made by a Facebook user in support of the policy change:

The letter surfaced on an invitation-only Facebook page titled “Supporting St. Paul Students and Teachers.” By [the following day], there were dozens of comments left on the page, which was started by parents in the district two years ago in connection with teacher contract talks.

“Very sad. All the fun is gone,” read one posting. “Totally ridiculous” and “Tired of the PC,” read two others.

In support, one commenter said she believes Masini and his staff are “being sensitive to children at their school who do not practice these holidays due to religious beliefs. … Holidays are very personal. Every family has a different take on how they celebrate or do not celebrate them.”

Left out of the 2017 rehash of this topic was that the school district had an overall policy regarding classroom observance of holidays across the board, put in place nearly a decade before anyone claimed that offended Muslims were to blame:

School board policy regarding holidays, last revised in 2008, says that schools “shall discourage lavish programs and festivities arranged to celebrate holidays and other special days, and shall strive to eliminate them, if possible except where such observances are required by law.” Those holidays: Washington’s Birthday, Lincoln’s Birthday, Martin Luther King’s Birthday and Veterans Day … The district eliminated student birthday party celebrations a few years ago to ensure inclusiveness, meaning no more goodies brought into classrooms on special days, [district spokesman Tony] Taschner said.

We found no information whatsoever to suggest that the primary claim, that offended Muslims ordered the cancellation of Valentine’s Day at one school or an entire state, had any basis in truth. The claim appeared to be a rehash of routine allegations that offended Muslims have demanded or coerced (non-existent) bans on Christmas, the Pledge of Allegiance, poppies, the National Anthem, the American flag in America, the Statue of Liberty, Halloween (twice), bathing suits at water parks, bacon, England jerseys, pork, ham, the graves of grandparents, chapel benches, and the use of microwaves for non-halal food.

Sources:

Walsh, Paul.    “St. Paul School Kisses Valentine’s Day, Other ‘Dominant Holidays,’ Goodbye.”
      [Minneapolis] Star Tribune.     29 January 2016.

Pew Research Center.    “The Shifting Religious Identity of Latinos in the United States.”
    7 May 2014.

Pew Research Center.     “A Religious Portrait of African-Americans.”
    30 January 2009.

Pew Research Center.     “Asian Americans: A Mosaic of Faiths.”
    19 July 2012.