In a move that has raised eyebrows, a New Jersey school district has called off Halloween festivities and outlawed the wearing of costumes during school time. This move is attributed to the District’s aggressive push for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) measures. Dr. Ronald Taylor, the Superintendent of the South Orange & Maplewood School District, situated to the west of Newark, spearheaded this decision.
In an official communication sent out to families on October 6, Dr. Taylor explained that the district’s fervent commitment to promoting DEI isn’t merely lip service. The letter delves into the concerns raised yearly surrounding Halloween celebrations. Questions such as whether these activities inadvertently cause financial strains on families, if they offend certain cultural or religious sentiments, and whether these activities clash with the district’s purported values of equity and access, were posed.
In a bid to gauge the sentiments on this, the district polled school principals about their stance on continuing the Halloween traditions or making a switch to a more neutral “Fall Festival” that celebrates the season. The response was astonishingly one-sided. A large majority of the principals advocated for abandoning the Halloween festivities in schools.
The upshot of this? All elementary schools in the district are likely to embrace the idea of a “Fall/Harvest Festival” which can be organized during school hours. Meanwhile, traditional Halloween events, if any, have been relegated to after-school hours. However, these can still be coordinated with related entities like a school’s parent-teacher association.
Dr. Kevin Gilbert, the assistant superintendent of Access and Equity, chimed in saying, “While this is a departure from our usual practices, it’s essential to grasp that the pursuit of equity sometimes requires abandoning old norms. With this decision, we’re aligning more closely with our community’s equity ideals.”
Seriously? We can't let kids celebrate Halloween? Give me a break https://t.co/BQiezE5OoZ
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) October 24, 2023
However, the decision has its critics. Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, expressed his disbelief over the district’s stance on Halloween. Taking to social platform X, he remarked, “Seriously? We can’t let kids celebrate Halloween? Give me a break.”
It’s noteworthy that Halloween has been under the progressive microscope for the past decade. Detractors argue that some costumes can be seen as culturally or racially inappropriate, leading to potential tensions. For instance, a Caucasian individual donning a Native American headdress or traditional Asian outfits could be deemed insensitive.