A school district in Connecticut has reportedly decided to ban a popular holiday tradition for fear that some students may feel excluded.
In early October, administrators at Live Oaks School in Milford, Connecticut, sent a letter to parents officially banning Halloween celebrations at the school this year, the CT Post reported. The ban included cancelling the annual Halloween parade and forbidding students and staff from wearing costumes to school.
The letter reportedly dictated that classroom activities that day should be "fall themed, not Halloween, and food is not an option."
According to school officials, the decision to ban the holiday "arose out of numerous incidents of children being excluded from activities due to religion, cultural beliefs, etc."
Milford parents have expressed disappointment and outrage at the school's decision.
"I think it's crazy," Victoria Johannsen, the mother of a third grader at Live Oaks School, told the CT Post.
Johannsen added that, while she understands the school's desire to accommodate diverse beliefs, it wasn't fair to deprive Milford children of a beloved tradition like the annual Halloween parade.
"I don't think we're excluding anybody," Johannsen said. "I think they're excluding themselves."
Milford resident Rebecca Lilley, who started a petition on Change.org in response to the school district's ban that has now garnered more than 1,800 signatures, agrees with Johannsen's views.
“These are our American customs and traditions and we should not have to give them up because others find them offensive!” Lilley's petition reads. “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.”
Heather Sharpe, another Milford resident who signed the petition, said that the district could have found ways to accommodate children who didn't wish to participate in the holiday without banning celebrations for other students.
"If anything, they should be asking the people who feel excluded what they like to do, and having a party for them," said Sharpe.
Sharpe's children, now 15 and 20, both participated in the Halloween parade during their elementary school years.
Jim Richetelli, chief operations officer for Milford Public Schools, denied any direct knowledge of the decision to ban Halloween but said that respecting diversity is an important concern for the school district.
"Milford Public Schools do have many children from diverse beliefs, cultures and religions,” Richetelli said. “The goal is for all children to feel comfortable and definitely not alienated when they come to school.”