For many kids, Halloween is a timeless American tradition that allows anyone to be just about whoever — or whatever — they want to be for a day. But for one school near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Oct. 31 holiday is still not inclusive enough.
Hillcrest Elementary School in Waukesha has been hosting a fall festival around Halloween for years, according to NBC affiliate WTMJ-TV. Over time, kids dressing up for a costume parade has become a major aspect of the family event. But this year, with a new principal at the helm, the school sent a letter to parents to not send their children to school in costume on Tuesday, Oct. 31.
“To maximize that fun and time of fall fest, we are going to ask families to not send costumes this year,” the letter read. “We want to be inclusive of all families including those families who don't celebrate Halloween or find purchasing a costume a hardship. Also, there have been behavior and time management concerns related changing into and out of costumes.”
But a number of parents have spoken out against the decision, with some suggesting that the art class help kids make their own costumes if their parents can’t afford to buy them one. Other parents had another solution.
"If money was actually an issue, there's enough people that would have donated," said Jeremy Watson. “It doesn't have to be all-inclusive just because a few people don't want to do something. They don't have to do it.”
Crystal Landry added, “I just think it's sad. I think that there's different paths they could have gone down instead of just canceling the whole thing altogether. It just kind of seems the way that society is going. It just kind of seems silly to take it all away.”
Hillcrest isn’t the only school to have made this decision, though. Last week, Scholls Heights Elementary in Beaverton, Oregon announced a ban on Halloween costumes as well. According to Fox affiliate KPTV, the school even drew lots of support when they canceled the costume parade at their fall festival last year.
"We heard appreciation and support from many families last year when we canceled the Costume Parade because they finally felt their religious and/or cultural beliefs were welcome and being respected,” Principal Monique Singleton said. “Some shared that in prior years they had opted to keep their child home rather than their child be teased or made to feel uncomfortable for having to choose between their family's beliefs and the school's activities during the school day."
The school also cited the extra time and chaos caused by students getting in and out of costume. But as in Wisconsin, some parents in the Portland suburb were upset as well.
"It's important for the kids to stay motivated and have some fun things to look forward to, and just to have them, you know, be able to let loose a little. I think really Halloween is about promoting imagination and creativity and having a little fun, and I just don't think there's anything wrong with that," Nicole Lewis said.
The school is hosting a “Crazy Sock Day” instead in hopes that all kids will be able to participate. Two years ago, a school district in Milford, Connecticut got attention for making a similar decision.
The costume parade at all the city’s elementary schools was banned because of “numerous incidents of children being excluded from activities due to religion, cultural beliefs, etc.,” according to the Connecticut Post.
One parent, Rebecca Lilley, started a petition at the time that stated: “These are our American customs and traditions and we should not have to give them up because others find them offensive! I’m so tired [of] my kids missing out on some of the things we all got to do as children and are some of the greatest childhood memories I have due to others saying they find it offensive.”
Back at Hillcrest, students are being asked to wear a crazy hat to school on Halloween instead. The school suggested parents donate $2 per hat toward a fund to help victims of this year’s hurricanes. Watch the full report below:
What do you think of all this? Meanwhile, it appears that Trump-basher Jemele Hill, who just got suspended from ESPN after bashing the Dallas Cowboys too, isn’t really being punished.