The Benjamin Franklin Day Elementary School’s racial equity team decided to cancel the “Pumpkin Parade”, where students dress up in Halloween costumes, after deliberating for five years. Parents were told about their decision on 8 October through a newsletter.
“Historically, the Pumpkin Parade marginalises students of colour who do not celebrate the holiday. Specifically, these students have requested to be isolated on campus while the event took place," a Seattle Public Schools spokesperson told KTTH Radio. “There are numerous community and neighbourhood events where students and families who wish to can celebrate Halloween.”
In the newsletter sent to parents, the school noted that costume parties could become uncomfortable for some students and distract them from learning.
Halloween events create a situation where some students must be “excluded for their beliefs, financial status, or life experience”, the school said. “It’s uncomfortable and upsetting for kids”. According to nonprofit organisation GreatSchools, 15 per cent of the students at the elementary school belong to low-income families.
In alliance with its commitment to students of colour, specifically African Americans, the staff will supplant the annual event with “more inclusive and educational opportunities during the school day”, the newsletter added.
The school clarified that the decision was not related to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Principal Stanley Jaskot confirmed the cancellation of the parade to Fox News. “I agree this event marginalised our students of colour. Several of our students historically opted for an alternate activity in the library while the Pumpkin Parade took place,” he said.
Parents were reportedly not included in the decision-making process and were only informed last week. David Malkin, whose son attends the elementary school, told KTTH Radio that the decision was an “exercise in affluent white vanity that is wokeism”.