SAN FRANCISCO - The San Francisco Board of Education voted this week to acknowledge two Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, as official school holidays.
The resolution was introduced by Commissioner Matt Alexander, and on Tuesday, the Board overwhelmingly voted in favor of it. Commissioners Kevine Boggess, Jenny Lam, Matt Alexander and Lisa Weissman-Ward voted in favor, and Commissioner Ann Hsu was the only no vote for the resolution.
This process began in 2021 when Sara Ouchene, a 17-year-old student from Raoul Wallenberg High School, and her peers started a petition to have Eid recognized as school holidays in the San Francisco Unified School District.
The petition was then taken up by the city's Human Rights Commission, which recommended that the holidays be recognized.
The Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) is a grassroots organization that advocates for the Arab community in the Bay Area. They worked with students, parents, teachers and other members of the Muslim community to craft a resolution for the Board of Education.
The resolution cites the growing Muslim population in San Francisco, and the importance of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, the first and second most sacred holidays celebrated by Muslims worldwide. It also notes that although the San Francisco schools excuse absences for cultural holidays, students still miss a day of instruction unless it's a holiday observed district-wide.
"Incorporating Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha into the San Francisco Unified School District Calendar as days when schools are closed in recognition of the holidays would allow Muslim students to fully participate in these holidays and maintain equal access to their educational opportunities," the resolution states.
The resolution also noted various other multicultural cities and counties -- including New York City, Detroit, and Broward County, Florida -- that observe Eid as school holidays.
"This resolution demonstrates that racial justice is not just a value, but something that must be an everyday priority and practice in San Francisco Unified School District," said AROC executive director Lara Kiswani.
This decision by the Board of Education is a "major victory" for Muslim families in San Francisco, Kiswani said in a news release. However, it may be especially important for the youth that can see the results of their petition.
"I've been working with Tenderloin youth for over 20 years," said Bushra Alabsi, a San Francisco parent leader and staff member with the Cross Cultural Community Center. "I'm thrilled to see our culture finally represented in our schools. We've been asking for this for years, and I'm so proud that my children, and the students I work with will be able to see themselves in this resolution and in their hard work organizing for it."
for more features.