Halloween canceled? Illinois district supports schools ‘moving away’ from holiday

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EVANSTON, Ill. – As some Illinois schools decide to move away from Halloween celebrations, some parents accused administrators of effectively “canceling” the holiday.

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 wrote in a statement late last month that while Halloween is a fun tradition for many, not everyone celebrates it. Some of the district’s schools won’t hold Halloween celebrations this year.

“As a result, we support our schools that are moving away from Halloween celebrations that include costumes and similar traditions,” the district’s statement said. “We are confident those who are choosing to move away from traditional Halloween celebrations will find new and engaging ways to build community within their schools.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Evanston’s Lincoln Elementary School is one of the schools calling off Halloween this year. Some parents told the newspaper they’re frustrated with the school’s decision and felt like they were left out of the decision-making process.

“Halloween is a cultural American holiday, and it’s being canceled because of religious groups,” Nejra Bajric told the Tribune. “We’re a Bosnia and Muslim immigrant and refugee family. Halloween, when we moved (to Chicago) from a different country, was one of the greatest things.”

Bajric said her son was looking forward to dressing up as the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man this year. She told the Tribune that Halloween gave her family a way to fit in after moving to the U.S. from Bosnia in the mid-90s.

Other parents were more supportive of the move, reported WMAQ, saying that trick-or-treat and Halloween parties can take place outside of school.

Instead of holding a Halloween party, Lincoln Elementary School will hold a “fall celebration” on Nov. 1.

Here’s the district’s message:

As part of our school and district-wide commitment to equity, we are focused on building community and creating inclusive, welcoming environments for all. While we recognize that Halloween is a fun tradition for many, it is not a holiday that is celebrated by everyone for various reasons and we want to honor that. We are also aware of the range of inequities that are embedded in Halloween celebrations that take place as part of the school day and the unintended negative impact that it can have on students, families, and staff. As a result, we support our schools that are moving away from Halloween celebrations that include costumes and similar traditions. We are confident those who are choosing to move away from traditional Halloween celebrations will find new and engaging ways to build community within their schools.

In District 65, we remain committed to equity and discontinuing current and past practices that are not in alignment with our goals. Our schools are special because of the people who are a part of them. Everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, ability level, religion, spoken language, cultural beliefs and traditions, gender identity, sexual orientation, and citizenship status, should feel comfortable being their authentic selves while in our schools. We support our administrators, educators, and staff members who continue to do their best for the students and families that they serve.

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