A school system in Connecticut that banned Halloween celebrations in all of its elementary schools has now reversed its decision. Earlier, it had canceled all such festivities and forbid students and faculty from wearing any costumes during the day.
Milford Public Schools Superintendent, Elizabeth Feser, wrote in a letter, dated October 12, that the controversy surrounding the school system’s decision regarding the annual celebrations was becoming an unnecessary distraction. She explained that the purpose of the cancellation was to create an alternative, inclusive celebration for all children and families that might not be willing to participate in Halloween for cultural or religious reasons.
However, the school system’s decision led to an outcry among parents, who launched an online petition demanding that Halloween celebrations be reinstated immediately. Victoria Johannsen, mother of a third grade pupil at Live Oaks School, told the media that the school system’s decision to cancel Halloween was unfair to those students and families that cherish the occasion.
“I don't understand why other avenues weren't pursued to accommodate families who felt excluded,” she said. “I don't think we're excluding anybody. I think they're excluding themselves.”
Johannsen explained that she had received a letter from her child’s school principal, who said the decision was a result of numerous incidents where children have been made to feel excluded due to cultural or religious reasons. The letter also specified that classroom activities would follow a “fall theme” and not Halloween. Johannsen is only one of the over 5,000 individuals who signed the petition demanding the school system reinstates Halloween celebrations in all of its elementary schools.
“I was shocked to find out our annual Halloween parade has been discontinued throughout our district. This is just not right,” Rebecca Lilley, who started the petition, wrote on Change.org. “Growing up in America there are certain traditions and celebrations we have become accustomed to celebrating at home and during school! Saying the pledge of allegiance, Halloween parades, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations, New Years, Valentines day parties and dances and Easter. 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 on 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.”
Lilley further stated that she is an advocate of American culture but would work to embrace others as long as those who oppose Halloween keep their children at home. She concluded that certain people being offended is not enough reason for children to miss out on traditional activities in schools.
“Tell me how children smiling dressing up as a cartoon character, a doctor, a superhero is offensive? They are just children having fun and if you find it offensive you have the right to keep your child home but do not take the fun out of our traditional holidays and functions! Do not take our children's rights to celebrate their holidays away!!!” she wrote.
Milford Public Schools Chief Operations Officer, Jim Richetelli, said that he had no direct information about the controversial decision that had been taken by the school system. He pointed out however that respecting diversity among students is the school system’s primary concern.
Photo Credits: National Review Online