EAST LANSING, Mich. – Principals at elementary schools in a Michigan school district are canceling Halloween and Valentine's Day celebrations over equity and inclusion concerns raised by parents.
East Lansing Public Schools elementary principals sent a joint letter to families Wednesday announcing there would no longer be Halloween or Valentine’s Day celebrations in the classroom due to potential distractions and an increasing number of uncomfortable families.
“It's not uncommon to see students crying on Halloween "because they don't have the same kind of costumes that other kids have or they didn't bring the same amazing valentines that other kids do," Assistant Superintendent Glenn Mitcham said. "We're striving hard at East Lansing Public Schools to be a district that is equitable and inclusive for all families."
But the district is by no means canceling Halloween or Valentine's Day, Mitcham said. Instead, celebrations can be built into the curriculum. He used the example of a class measuring a pumpkin while learning about circumference.
The schools will also look to hold alternative celebrations throughout the year celebrating students meeting academic or behavioral goals.
Halloween and Valentine's Day continue to be celebrated at MacDonald Middle School and East Lansing High School in the school district, Mitcham said, but to a lesser extent. Some students might put on a costume for Halloween, but there are few to no parties.
Celebrating Halloween and Valentine's Day at the elementary level is more problematic, he said.
“Each year, along with the fun of Halloween parties and parades, we also have students whose families do not celebrate or feel comfortable with their children participating in Halloween festivities,” the elementary principals wrote. “We have young children who become overwhelmed and sometimes frightened of the costumes and others who come to school with no costume at all.”
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In recent years, some families have kept their children home from school or picked them up early on Halloween, according to the letter. The costumes, parades and parties can also make it difficult for children to concentrate and for teachers to teach, the principals wrote.
Valentine’s Day brings its own set of “unintended consequences,” the principals wrote. Some students bring valentines to exchange at school while others do not, leading to “drama and teasing” in upper elementary classrooms.
Meanwhile, some families and students "do not feel comfortable with the idea of boys and girls exchanging valentines or participating in a celebration that focuses on 'love,' " the principals wrote.
“While this may be a disappointment and/or an adjustment for some of our students/families at first, we promise to continue to offer alternative days throughout the school year that are full of fun and learning, for everyone," the elementary principals wrote.
This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Michigan schools call off Halloween, Valentine's Day celebrations