Seattle Elementary School Cancels Halloween Parade — Saying ‘It Marginalizes Students Of Color’

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B.F. Day Elementary school and Halloween

Benjamin Franklin Day Elementary (B.F. Day) has canceled their “Pumpkin Parade” event where students get to dress up in their Halloween costumes and celebrate the spooky holiday.

The reason behind the cancellation came from a Seattle Public Schools spokeswoman, who told KTTH Conservative Radio talk show host Jason Rantz that they wanted to be more “inclusive.”

In an attempt to be more inclusive, B.F. Day Elementary canceled the “Pumpkin Parade” event for everybody

The Benjamin Franklin Day Elementary School’s racial equity team has been talking about canceling the “Pumpkin Parade” event for the last 5 years.

Why is the Seattle school cancelling Halloween celebrations?

They say that, every year, students that don’t celebrate the hallow-day ask to be unincluded in the festivities and are offered the opportunity to do other activities away from the groups at the parade.

“Several of our students historically opted for an alternate activity in the library while the Pumpkin Parade took place,” said the school’s principal, Stanley Jaskot.

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“This was an isolating situation and not consistent with our values of being an inclusive and safe place for all our students,” he told Fox News, “especially students of color and those with a sensitivity to all the noise and excitement of the parade.”

The school informed parents of their decision on October 8th in a newsletter that asked them not to let their children dress up to school.

Other schools are also stopping their Halloween celebrations. 

The school did not provide details about why some parents reject the celebration of Halloween but they're not the first school to make this decision. 

A Connecticut school district made a similar choice back in 2014. This is likely because some may consider it a religious holiday, rather than a secular one.

While Halloween began as pagan celebration with Gaelic influence, it did develop significance in Christianity by celebrating the starting Allhallowtide and All Hallows’ Day.

Quickly, however, it turned into the spooky, scary, trick-or-treating, candy-eating holiday that we know and love — popularized by Western culture.

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The reasons for rejecting Halloween vary. Jehovah's Witnesses forbid members from celebrating Halloween, but many faiths, such as Latter-Day Saints, Hinduism and Buddhism leave it up to individual members.

Some fundamentalist Christians view it as an occult holiday while Jewish laws prohibiting celebration of "Gentile" holidays may restrict Orthodox members from celebrating Halloween.

Some parents rejected B.F. Day's decision to end Halloween celebrations.

The school explained that costume parties can be uncomfortable for many children who can’t afford one and that loud noise levels and crowds can also be upsetting for kids, according to Rantz.

However, financial restrictions are a totally different issue than the marginalization of ‘people of color.’

According to David Malkin, parent of a 7-year-old boy enrolled in B.F. Day Elementary, none of the parents were involved in the decision-making process.

“I don’t see any way in which this actually addresses any inequities to the extent that there are any inequities,” Malkin says. “You know, this just seems like grandstanding on behalf of the principal and the staff who are predominantly white.”

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He worries that instead of the cancellation being more inclusive, it might do the exact opposite and only make other students resent those kids who don’t celebrate the holiday.

Instead of the “Pumpkin Parade,” students will partake in “thematic units of study about the fall” and reviewing “autumnal artwork.”

Rantz believes that they’re using the excuse of ‘equity’ to simply say that they don’t think Black students can afford the costumes and asks why they can’t combat that in another way.

“Assuming low-income students don’t celebrate Halloween as administrators seem to believe, couldn’t there be costume-making activities?” He asks. “Perhaps request costumes be donated or maybe use donations to buy some costumes for the kids in need? What about using face paint for students for Halloween designs?”

Holidays are celebrated all the time in school. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and more are all recognized during the holiday season within schools to make sure everyone is included.

Malkin said that he would wait for the reactions of other parents to take any action, but so far the decision stands.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.