Boyden Elementary School canceled their annual Halloween costume parade and institutionally renamed the holiday “Black and Orange Spirit Day.” The reasoning behind this decision, according to boston.cbslocal.com, was stated by Boyden Elementary School’s principal, Mr. Brendan Dearborn. Dearborn claims that “the parade is not inclusive of all the students, and it is our goal each and every day to ensure all student’s individual differences are respected.” The school did not mention specific groups of people, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and traditional conservative Christian families, who do not celebrate Halloween, when they stated why this decision was made.
Many parents and students alike were not happy to hear of this rebranding of Halloween. One parent’s response was to ask why this holiday has to be turned “into something political?”
On October 31, students had a “Black and Orange Spirit Day.” They were allowed to wear either black or orange clothes, but they were not permitted to dress up in costumes.
I understand why the school decided to go this route in an attempt to include everyone; however, I think they took it too far. If they’re going to take away Halloween because some students don’t celebrate it, are they also planning on taking away Christmas festivities because not everyone celebrates Christmas? I realize that most public elementary schools use the coined term “Happy Holidays” because not every student celebrates the same winter holidays, but as far as I know, these schools usually give each class the option to host a holiday. Would those fun occasions be cancelled too?
I think a better solution to Boyden’s parade situation would have been to give the parents who don’t allow their kids to dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating permission to have their children opt out of the parade. The school should allow the students to have an excused absence due to their religious beliefs. I realize that this might not be the easiest option for parents who have to work while their child is at school, so another option would be to place any child who wasn’t allowed to participate in the parade into a separate classroom with a teacher. The teacher could let those kids play games, watch movies, draw pictures, and just have fun! They wouldn’t be missing much, and it’s not like they’d have to do schoolwork while all of their peers were enjoying a festive parade.
As a holiday that has preserved very little of the original religious traditions, Halloween is often seen as a day for children to have fun, enjoy themselves, and dress up in fun costumes. This is what makes this story a rather controversial one regarding an elementary school. With that being said, a logical conclusion might be to hand the responsibility of this decision over to politics. Of course, I’m neither a parent nor a politician. Overall, I think that the school’s decision to cancel their Halloween parade for the sake of including students who do not celebrate the holiday is understandable, yet unnecessary.