An elementary school principal in the nether suburbs of Philadelphia has decided to ban Halloween this year out of fear that somebody might be offended because, he claims, the holiday has religious connotations.
On Tuesday, parents received a letter announcing the decision from Orlando Taylor, the principal of Inglewood Elementary School in Towamencin Township, reports Philadelphia ABC affiliate WPVI.
The letter explains:
“Some holidays observed in the community that are considered by many to be secular (ex. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Valentine’s Day) are viewed by others as having religious overtones. The district must always be mindful of the sensitivity of all the members of the community with regard to holidays and celebrations of a religious, cultural or secular nature. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that school districts may not endorse, prefer, favor, promote or advance any religious beliefs….”
The constitutional scholar principal apparently does not describe who, if anyone, at Inglewood Elementary is or could be offended by the celebration of Halloween.
Taylor’s missive also alleges that the larger North Penn School District proscribes “the celebration of Halloween parades, Halloween parities, or dressing in Halloween costumes,” according to WPVI.
However, school district spokeswoman Christine Liberaski told the station that the anti-Halloween rule is limited only to classroom instruction. She said schools can hold parties if they want.
“What’s left up to the principals is parties, how many parties can be held during the school year, classroom parties,” Christine Liberaski said.
On Wednesday morning, unnamed officials at Inglewood Elementary indicated that the school will have something called a fall festival celebration — not Halloween! — at which kids can don costumes. The totally-not-Halloween party will take place after school on a day later this month.
Some parents were outraged about the decision.
“I think it’s a disgrace,” an exasperated parent told WPVI. “I can’t even explain how infuriated I am with this. Now we’re taking out Halloween.”
“Why deny our elementary school children this right of freedom of expression and celebration?” asked another outraged parent.
Other parents supported the principal.
“We kept our kids home from school on that day because we didn’t participate in it. And sometimes they would just sit in the office,” said Cleris Christian, a parent who supports the ban.
It’s not clear why Christian doesn’t want her kids participating in Halloween activities at school. It could be because of her religious beliefs. On her Facebook page, Christian lists ”evangelism” and “My Hope with Billy Graham” among her likes. She is also a member of the groups “Biblical proved” and “PRAYER REQUEST ( DEKORA ).”