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Connecticut school district cancels Halloween out of fear of excluding kids

  • Milford Public School announced a ban on Halloween parades across the city's elementary schools
  • It also forbid students and faculty from wearing Halloween costumes during the day
  • Letter to parents at one school said move came after number of incidents of children being 'excluded from activities due to religion, cultural beliefs'

By Dailymail.com Reporter

Published: 16:50 EST, 12 October 2015 | Updated: 09:17 EST, 13 October 2015

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Parents are outraged after a Connecticut school district cancelled Halloween out of fear of excluding children who do not want to participate in the celebration for religious and cultural beliefs.

Milford Public School announced a ban on Halloween parades across the city's elementary schools and also forbid students and faculty from wearing costumes during the day, according to the Connecticut Post.

The shocked mother of a third-grader at Live Oaks Elementary School, Victoria Johannsen, said while she respects the beliefs of others, she called the cancellation 'crazy' and said it is not fair to those who look forward to participating in the annual parade.

Connecticut parents are outraged after Milford Public Schools cancelled Halloween parades at elementary schools across the district out of fear of excluding children who do not want to participate in the celebration for religious and cultural beliefs (stock photo of children celebrating Halloween)

Connecticut parents are outraged after Milford Public Schools cancelled Halloween parades at elementary schools across the district out of fear of excluding children who do not want to participate in the celebration for religious and cultural beliefs (stock photo of children celebrating Halloween)

The mother of a third-grader at Live Oaks Elementary School (shown above), Victoria Johannsen, said while she respects the beliefs of others, she called the cancellation 'crazy' and said it is not fair to those who look forward to participating in the annual parade

The mother of a third-grader at Live Oaks Elementary School (shown above), Victoria Johannsen, said while she respects the beliefs of others, she called the cancellation 'crazy' and said it is not fair to those who look forward to participating in the annual parade

'I don't understand why other avenues weren't pursued' to accommodate families who felt excluded, she said.

'I don't think we're excluding anybody,' Johannsen added. 'I think they're excluding themselves.' 

Johannsen said she received a letter from her child's school principal last week saying the decision 'arose out of numerous incidents of children being excluded from activities due to religion, cultural beliefs, etc.,' the Connecticut Post reported.

The letter also said classroom activities must be 'fall themed, not Halloween, and food is not an option'.

Johannsen is one of more than 2,000 people who signed a Change.org petition calling for the district to bring back the parade.

'I was shocked to find out our annual Halloween parade has been discontinued throughout our district. This is just not right,' Rebecca Lilley, who started the petition wrote on Change.org.

'Growing up in America there are certain traditions and celebrations we have become accustomed to celebrating at home and during school! Saying the pledge of allegiance, Halloween parades, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations, New Years, Valentines day parties and dances and Easter.

'These are our American customs and traditions and we should not have to give them up because others find them offensive! 

'I'm so tired on my kids missing out on some of the things we all got to do as children and are some of the greatest childhood memories I have due to others saying they find it offensive.'

She continued by saying that she embraces our culture and 'will work to embrace others or keep your child home'.

Lilley added that children should not have to miss out on traditional activities just because people say they are offended.

One parent said she received a letter from her child's school principal last week saying the decision 'arose out of numerous incidents of children being excluded from activities due to religion, cultural beliefs, etc.' (stock photo of children as they celebrate Halloween)

One parent said she received a letter from her child's school principal last week saying the decision 'arose out of numerous incidents of children being excluded from activities due to religion, cultural beliefs, etc.' (stock photo of children as they celebrate Halloween)

She wrote: 'Tell me how children smiling dressing up as a cartoon character, a doctor, a super hero is offensive? 

'They are just children having fun and if you find it offensive y9u have the right to keep your child home but do not take the fun out of our traditional holidays and functions! 

'Do not take our children's rights to celebrate their holidays away!!!'

Chief Operations Officer for Milford Public Schools, Jim Richetelli, said he did not have 'direct knowledge' of the decisions about Halloween but said respecting diversity among students is a key concern.

He mentioned that there will be seasonal activities including those scheduled by the Parent Teachers Association and said students who want to participate in those events can do so.

Milford resident Heather Sharpe - who has children that are now grown that participated in the Halloween parades - said instead of cancelling the parades, a better solution would be finding an activity for those to do who cannot participate while the parades would have been going on.

'If anything, they should be asking the people who feel excluded what they like to do, and having a party for them,' she told the Connecticut Post.

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