Monday, October 12, 2015

Conneticut Schools Cancelling Halloween Celebrations Causes Much Upset

The Milford School District in Connecticut recently announced their cancellation of Halloween festivities in their schools. Their reason was due to
"cultural sensitivity" and "awareness". The
School District claimed that they received
many complaints addressing the fact that
some cultures don't celebrate Halloween, and that acknowledgment should be shown towards
children who cannot participate in Halloween
festivities due to religion and other beliefs. The announcement also included that students and staff were not allowed to wear costumes as a celebration of the holiday.
However, this announcement did not go well with many Connecticut school parents. Parents of children belonging to the Milford School District created an online petition to bring back the Halloween celebrations for their children. Their argument was that even with all respect towards cultures who don't celebrate Halloween, children who do celebrate should be able to participate and experience this holiday.
The Superintendent of the school district didn't budge, and the Halloween celebrations have been officially canceled. 
I personally do not find it right for a school district to completely forbade children and teachers from participating in the celebration of Halloween. I think this holiday should be treated that children who want to dress up, can, and whoever does not want to, doesn't have to. I find it hypocritical the school district is cancelling the celebration for cultural awareness, even though it is blockading many cultures from participating in a holiday they celebrate.
What do you guys think? Do you think cancelling Halloween for elementary school children teaches them a lesson of cultural awareness, or is the school district looking too deeply into the meaning of Halloween? If you were a parent or student, how would you handle this situation? Is this a good, progressive way to appreciate other cultures? Why or why not?


Justin Chan said...

Thank you Meghan for your original post. Although I can understand why some may want to cancel the festivities, as it seems like the district is supporting a specific sector of kids if the Halloween celebrations proceed, I don't believe that canceling the festivities altogether is an appropriate approach. I believe that allowing children a medium to celebrate Halloween does not attack other cultures. In fact, children and adults may even displace their anger on these people who do not celebrate Halloween, as the district seems to cancel the festivities in respect to them. Along the same idea, some may even argue that a teacher's recognition of Valentines Day may be considered disrespectful to either single people or even the LGBTQ community; therefore, I think that the school district has gone too far. Although I may be biased since I celebrated Halloween when I was a kid, there is point when the majority gets its way.

In response to a few of Meghan's other questions, parents should create their own Halloween parties to keep up the spirit of Halloween, and kids just need to stay hopeful. In order to appreciate other cultures, the school district must find ways to incorporate the ideologies of other cultures; thus, kids will understand their beliefs without having to be punished, in their eyes, for other people's cultures.

This article raises a few other questions. Should the school district use the sample principle of "cultural sensitivity" and "awareness" for other holidays, such as St. Patricks Day and Valentines Day? When will this type of "awareness" get too far or has it gone too far already?

Danny Halawi said...

Thanks for your interesting post. My thoughts on the matter is that banning Halloween festivities at this school doesn't make much sense. Like Justin was saying, if there can't be Halloween, then why allow other national traditions like Valentines day and other holidays. In most celebrations, there's always going to be a minority group that might not take joy in the celebration; however, it doesn't necessarily mean that the celebration shouldn't be practiced.

Some people believe that Halloween shouldn't be celebrated at the Connecticut school district because it goes against certain people's religious beliefs. The interesting thing is, though, Halloween isn't even a religious holiday. I understand that Halloween doesn't have to be a religious holiday in order to offend or go against certain religions, but the fact of the matter is that these people are taking it to an extreme. If the school was encouraging everyone to celebrate a religious holiday like Christmas, then it would be understandable as to why some people (non-Christians) would not want that. But celebrations like Halloween, Easter, and Valentines day, are national traditions in America that have little to do with religion. I truly feel like it is unfair to not allow the majority of kids to celebrate Halloween just because a minority group feels uncomfortable with the tradition, especially when religion is the motivation.

Jared Mayerson said...

I agree with Danny that even if not everyone can celebrate a holiday that, "it doesn't necessarily mean that the celebration shouldn't be practiced." I believe in tolerance of all cultures and religion but that goes both ways. We should respect other people's beliefs and choice not to celebrate Halloween and they should respect ours. Canceling Halloween celebrations does not solve the problem at all. Instead, it made a lot of families unhappy and less likely to respect contradicting beliefs. I think that, not only should the Milford School District Superintendent should reverse his/her decision, but also inform the school district about these other cultures that do not celebrate this holiday and, possibly, why. This would respect both parties while still allowing the desired celebrations. These ideas don't only apply to the Milford School District, they already apply to the country. The United States is made up of many different religions and cultures and all are legally permitted to practice their beliefs in the way they choose. Although some may not believe in the ways of others, they cannot legally stop them (similar to the case on gay marriage). As a Jew who goes to temple on Rosh Hashanah instead of school, I do not expect everyone else to not go to school because I can't. I do what my religion calls for and make up the work during the week. Both Jews and non-Jews can do what they prefer and everyone is happy.

Nick Jadallah said...

I seem to generally agree with what has already been mentioned. Even though you could make the argument that Halloween technically has religious roots, ever since its introduction to the United States, it has been a completely secular holiday. Also, I understand the superintendents concern about respecting other cultures and beliefs and whatnot, but Halloween, whether you like it or not, is actually an integral part of the culture of the United States. It is not really tied to any ethnic or religious culture in particular. It is something that the vast majority of United States citizens celebrate and enjoy-- a festive occasion. Now, while I do believe in minority rights, I think that in this instance, the minority of people who do not celebrate Halloween should not have the power to dictate whether or not school children get to celebrate this holiday at school. At some point, they need to respect the culture of the country that they live in and that the majority has learned to embrace. They do not need to agree or participate in it, but they are in no position to inhibit others from enjoying that freedom. With something like Christmas, or maybe even Easter, the opponents would have a better argument, but not with Halloween. I think parents should be angry, not because Halloween festivities were cancelled, but because they were cancelled for that reason. Good article.

Langston Swiecki said...

For the sake of some diversity, I shall argue that the school is justified in cancelling this Halloween celebration. Halloween persists even when it is not formally allocated time in school, so those who wish to celebrate the holiday still may. Those who wish to indulge in the capitalist fanfare of Halloween can still buy costumes and go trick-or-treating, but such frivolity does not need to be perpetuated by a public institution. While a minority, the children who do not choose to participate in such a celebration are psychologically belittled, as they are deemed abnormal and do not receive an equal opportunity to bond with their fellow classmates. It does seem weird to have an objection to this relatively benign holiday, but not celebrating it in school can only serve to broaden the minds of typical Americans, who are already immersed in the holiday due to the tendency of businesses that sell related products to advertise for the entire month of October. Let schools be a sanctuary from this mindless consumerism, as their mandate is to help guide children to a greater understanding of the world around them (in the form of specific subjects). Parents should perpetuate whatever they wish outside of school, so the "spirit" of Halloween will live on regardless.