Public schools across the country are cancelling Halloween celebrations over issues ranging from candy corn to concerns that Americans are forcing their holiday traditions on new immigrants and many parents are angered by what they are calling political correctness.
The principal at Buckman Elementary School in Portland, OR recently banned costumes at his school, calling instead for boys and girls to embrace a “spirit of equity.”
“For many reasons, the celebration of Halloween at school can lead to student exclusion,” Principal Brian Anderson wrote in a letter to parents. “There are social, financial and cultural differences among our families that we must respect.”
Anderson wrote that the “spirit of equity” has led most public schools in the city to “deemphasize the celebration of Halloween at school.”
The outrage among parents was profound and prompted a story in the Portland Mercurcy.
Anderson told the newspaper that any child who shows up to school with a costume will be required to change clothes. He defended his ban saying that Halloween at school excludes children.
“We’re pushing our traditions on an ever-changing population,” he told the Portland Mercury. “Halloween is, in many ways, personal to some people and to other people it’s very offensive.”
But to many parents, the idea of banning Halloween costumes is outrageous.
“This country’s obsession with the politically correct is really getting out of hand,” wrote Shannon Brazil on her blog.
Brazil noted the irony that students attending an arts school would not be allowed to be artistic.
“All this over America’s most creative holiday as it pertains to, of all places, an art school,” she wrote. “We just want the children at our arts school to be able to express themselves with costumes if they choose to do so.”
Halloween celebrations have also been banned in some schools across Michigan.
“Change is hard,” Carol Dawson told the Muskegon Chronicle. She’s the principal at Holton Elementary school – where candy corn and candied apples have been replaced with a fall festival focused on health and wellness.
Edgewood Elementary School in Fruitport, MI, decided to steer clear of both Halloween parties and costumes parades. The principal told the Chronicle she wanted to keep children safe and avoid hurt feelings.
“Emotionally, it is a difficult time for kids who don’t have costumes,” Amy Upham told the newspaper.
So instead of cookies and candy, the kids at Edgewood Elementary will get “fall-centered fun and educational activities.”
The decision upset parent Amy Schmidt.
“We walked outside (for a costume parade) every year when we were kids,” she told the newspaper. “And now we’re not having that for our kids, not having the memories and not having videos.”
In Springfield, NJ, elementary school principals banned costumes claiming it caused classroom disruptions.
Superintendent Michael Davino told the Springfield Patch that dressing up is not something kids should be doing at school.
“I do believe it is something you should do with your friends, believe it is something you should do with your family, and it is something you should do as an activity that has really nothing to do with school or about school,” he said.
The new policy has angered many Springfield elementary school students, some of whom attended a recent meeting of the Township Board to voice their opposition, according to the newspaper.
“We all still understand we can not wear masks or other things to cover our faces because it’s a safety issue,” one fifth grade student at Sandmeier Elementary School told the newspaper. “But I do not understand why we cannot wear costumes on Halloween.”
Costumes were also banned in Clear Lake Riviera, CA – until parents got fired up.
Diana Davidson, the principal at Riviera Elementary School, reversed the ban after she said it had become a “more emotional issue” than she had anticipated, reported The Record Bee.
She told the newspaper that the original intent of the ban was to include all children, noting that kids who don’t dress up get teased.