LI Senator Pushes for Religious School Holidays

New York state Sen. Kevin Thomas speaking on the Senate floor in Albany. (Photo courtesy of the office of Sen. Thomas via Desi Talk)

State Sen. Kevin Thomas of the 6th district in Nassau County recently introduced a bill that would allow public schools statewide to observe the holidays of Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Diwali, Vaisakhi, Good Friday and Onam, when the local population is home to at least 7.5 percent of those respective ethnic and cultural groups.

Thomas, who this year became the first and only Indian-American state legislator, spoke to Desi Talk‘s Ela Dutt about S4038.

“When I was campaigning I told the large crowds of South Asians I would do this. And that’s what I’m doing … keeping my promise,” Thomas emphasized. He said many members of Indian-American and South Asian communities told him they missed being able to celebrate as a family on the specific day of the religious or cultural event. “That’s what was my intention in introducing this bill – to promote our religions and our cultures.”

Bill S4038 has been read twice and ordered printed and is currently with the Committee on Education. Thomas said it may take time for it to be passed but that it had several supporters including Senators John Liu (District 11) and Leroy Comrie (District 14), both from the borough of Queens which has a significant South Asian population. Liu and Comrie wanted to list Diwali to the existing holidays.

For more details on the bill, and its chances of passing, as well as why having the holidays is “personal” for Thomas, go to Desi Talk.

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