I'm sure it's very difficult to talk to your child about Halloween. "Sometimes, when a person and fun really love each other, the person, uh, dresses up…It's a kind of fantasy? Do you know what a fantasy is?" I mean, awkward! But you don't want your child to learn about Halloween on the streets, do you? Or, even worse, from television! No. Halloween is something that kids should learn about in an exceedingly, suffocatingly safe environment. Like their school.
From The NY Times:
Guns, daggers and other toy weapons have long been excisedfrom costumes at many school celebrations on Halloween. But in some classrooms across the country, the interpretation of what is too scary — or offensive, gross or saddening — is now also leading to an abundance of caution and some prohibitions.
In a school district in Illinois, students are being encouraged to dress up as historical characters or delicious food items rather than vampires or zombies. In Texas, a school has issued suggestions for “positive costumes” for the annual Halloween dance.
Well, I'm glad someone finally said it! Halloween should be about spreading positivity, not about who has the scariest costume or fun or whatever. That's why this year, I'm just putting my imaginary children (Hope, Hayleigh, and little Agamemnon) in MoveOn.org, Amnesty International, and Greenpeace t-shirts and telling everyone their costume is, "Human Doing." It's about time someone thought of the children.
At Riverside Drive, a Los Angeles public school in the San Fernando Valley, the Halloween parade is being defanged right down to its jagged fingertips.
A memo about costume appropriateness sent home recently by Riverside Drive’s principal made the following points:
¶They should not depict gangs or horror characters, or be scary.
¶Masks are allowed only during the parade.
¶Costumes may not demean any race, religion, nationality, handicapped condition or gender.
¶No fake fingernails.
¶No weapons, even fake ones.
¶Shoes must be worn.
God, wouldn't you have loved to see the costumes at Riverside Drive Elementary before the guidelines? Apparently there were a lot of shoeless Edward Scissorhands, masked Crips carrying real guns, and "Person In Wheelchair Holding A Fake Grenade" costumes.
Obviously, the "no weapons" is a sound rule for a school to have—and not just at Halloween. And the "no racist/jerky costumes" is a pretty good one too, although that's mostly just common sense. But to tell kids that they can't dress up as horror characters or wear scary costumes on Halloween is, to put it mildly, idiotic. That's like saying "No references to America at the 4th of July parade."
Calm down, schools. If a kid gets scared because some other kid in class is wearing a Scream mask, that kid will be shamed out of his fear really quickly, as he should be. Most kids can tell the difference between reality and dress-up—and if they can't Halloween is the perfect time to learn. Your children have all their lives to become lame fraidy-cats. Why make them start now?