Superintendent cancels Halloween, bans costumes in school citing DEI and potential harm to students’ ‘dignity’


A New Jersey school district canceled official school-wide Halloween celebrations, citing its diversity, equity and inclusion values and the purported potential for the festival to be offensive to people from various cultural and religious backgrounds. 

Dr. Ronald G. Taylor, the superintendent of the South Orange & Maplewood School District (SOMSD), sent a letter to families on Oct. 6 explaining why any Halloween celebrations in the district will have to be held after school hours.

“As you know, SOMSD is committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion meaningfully – not just saying the words but also promoting an inclusive school… Our aim is to build a consistent approach across the District as to how our schools observe and celebrate holidays and special events,” Taylor wrote.  “Each year, questions arise from families, students, and staff about what SOMSD schools will be doing regarding Halloween.” 

The district reflected on the following questions:

“Is promoting school-sponsored Halloween activities creating indirect and unintentional financial hardships for students and families? Do school-sponsored Halloween activities violate the dignity of some of our students and families, either culturally or religiously? Does the promotion of school-sponsored Halloween activities create tensions with the equity and access values of SOMSD?”

The superintendent’s letter continued, “Ultimately, it was determined that I know this may make some uncomfortable and elicit some challenges across our community. However, in the end, I feel these recommendations align with SOMSD’s commitment to building equity.” 

On the district’s website, another release stated principals were surveyed on whether school-sponsored Halloween celebrations should continue or be replaced with a festival that is focused on autumn. They state the principals’ “overwhelming” response favored in canceling Halloween celebrations in school. 

“All of us realize that this breaks with what the District has usually done, and that can be a difficult thing to do sometimes,” Dr. Kevin Gilbert, Assistant Superintendent of Access and Equity, said. “Often, working to instill greater equity in our district begins with recognizing that we cannot do what we have always done. But with this decision, we are taking a step closer to upholding our community’s access and equity values.”

Fox News Digital reached out to the district for comment and was referred to its previous statement. The district said Halloween was not canceled but was banned from school hours. 

“We will not have any Halloween-themed events at any SOMSD schools during school hours,” it said. “No costumes will be worn during school hours at our SOMSD schools.”

It added, “Schools can partner with PTAs, HSAs, or other outside organizations to do themed events after school hours.” 


The governor of New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy, responded, “Seriously? We can’t let kids celebrate Halloween? Give me a break.”  

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