A Massachusetts elementary school principal has lashed out against traditional American holidays, banning costumes in school for Halloween and telling teachers to "be careful" about celebrating Thanksgiving, the Boston Herald reports.
In an email to teachers on holidays, John F. Kennedy Elementary School Principal Anne Foley also notes that teachers can no longer "claim ignorance of the atrocities that Christopher Columbus committed against the indigenous peoples," and that celebrating Columbus Day is "an insult and a slight."
School Superintendent Tony Pierantozzi told the Boston Herald that Halloween is "problematic" for some families, noting its connections to witchcraft. And while historians say that Columbus was often not involved in the marauding, Foley says she just wants to "open up a conversation."
Kennedy Elementary isn't alone this year. Some schools in Ithaca, N.Y. have nixed traditions of celebrating Halloween. South Hill Elementary and Northeast Elementary Schools will not be hosting their annual Halloween parade and classroom parties, The Ithaca Journal reports.
The schools' principals said they based their decision on their students' diverse backgrounds. Other schools in the district have elected to keep their celebratory traditions, and students can opt out if they wish.
"Both nationally and locally, schools have moved away from Halloween celebrations during school because they conflict with some families' beliefs," South Hill Principal Colleen Ledley told The Ithaca Journal. "This is true at South Hill as well."
Parents of Buckman Elementary School in Portland, Ore. are petitioning the school principal's ban on Halloween costumes, with one parent noting that "this country's obsession with the politically correct is really getting out of hand," The Portland Mercury reports.
According to The Portland Mercury, Buckman Principal Brian Anderson wrote in a letter to parents last week:
For many reasons, the celebration of Halloween at school can lead to student exclusion. There are social, financial and cultural differences among our families that we must respect. The spirit of equity has led most [Portland Public Schools], including most elementary schools, to deemphasize the celebration of Halloween at school.
Anderson says that this is the second year that the school has banned sugar-filled parties and costumes, telling The Portland Mercury that celebrating Halloween at school excludes some students by "pushing our traditions on an ever-changing population."
Also last year, the School District of South Orange and Maplewood in New Jersey banned Christmas Carols from their holiday concerts, citing the need to adopt and promote an inclusive environment for students and the community.