The yearly Halloween celebration at an elementary school outside of Chicago has been permanently cancelled, and some parents are outraged. The decision was made in an effort to be inclusive of all students.
At the school's annual October event, there is a party for the kids to which they all have the opportunity to wear their costumes and get candy. But principal Michelle Cooney of Lincoln Elementary School in Evanston, Illinois, determined that the Halloween party was not in line with the school's value of equality because not everyone celebrates the holiday.
"As part of our school and district-wide commitment to equity, we are focused on building community and creating inclusive, welcoming environments for all," Cooney wrote in a statement emailed to the Chicago Tribune. "While we recognize that Halloween is a fun tradition for many families, it is not a holiday that is celebrated by all members of our school community and for various reasons. There are also inequities in how we have traditionally observed the holiday as part of our school day. Our goal at Lincoln is to provide space and opportunities for all students to be part of the community — not to create an environment that may feel exclusive or unwelcoming to any child."
Nejra Bajric, whose second grade son was planning to go as Miles from the new Spider-Man movie, is not pleased.
"There were some tears," Bajric said about her son hearing the news. "Every time I bring it up, he says, 'That's the worst; I'm just going to wear mine.'"
Bajric is an immigrant from Bosnia and says Halloween was her favorite day growing up.
"Halloween was my way of being like the other kids. Other students from other countries (at Lincoln), they get to feel like the other kids and participate in a cultural holiday," she said.
Mark Gruber, who has three kids enrolled at the school, is also upset about the decision.
"I don't think that's a good reason, that's not a way society works," he said. "If one kid is offended, we want to try to include that kid and come with solutions, but to say we need to change our behavior in a significant way over a Halloween celebration, it's hard to take."
Instead of the Halloween party, there will be a fall celebration held on November 1. That likely won't be enough for parents like Gruber.
"To take away (Halloween) in the name of a few people who don't celebrate, this is completely wrong," he said.