Social Question

ECassandra's avatar

What's your take on censoring childrens' costumes in public school Halloween parades?

Asked by ECassandra (146points) October 31st, 2009

The front page of Friday’s New York Times featured a story on measures taken by public school administrations to prohibit weapons (real and fake ones), masks, even costumes deemed “too scary—or offensive, gross, or saddening” in Halloween-related activities at public schools. (The story can be found here: The author writes that many schools encourage “positive costumes” like animals or food items, some even going so far as to send letters to that effect to students’ homes. Perhaps most intriguing is that the administrators quoted in the piece are representatives of California school districts, primarily in the Los Angeles area, which has its conservative pockets but is overwhelmingly liberal.

I’m torn on this issue. While I’ve always felt that public schools tend to overdo it with respect to restricting student activity (my elementary and middle schools were quick to ban “distracting” toys as they cycled through their popularity, from Beanie Babies to chatter rings), even play-fighting with toy weapons is potentially injurious, and the rules governing acceptable behavior in public schools have never been subject to “real world” protections from censorship. Still, mandating that costumes, “not depict gangs or horror characters, or be scary” seems excessive.
What do you think?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

21 Answers

gemiwing's avatar

I wouldn’t want to have to watch after 30 eight year old kids with fake swords, fake guns or dressed up like ninjas. Kids act their costumes out more than adults.

I’m fine with it to a point.

holden's avatar

Costumes that aren’t scary? Somebody call the waaambulance.

DominicX's avatar

I think it’s ridiculous. The only rules about costumes at my schools when I was younger was that you couldn’t have weapons or be overly grotesque (lots of blood, violence, etc.) I think it’s okay if they don’t want weapons, even fake ones. I also think it’s fine if they want to discourage overly violent/gory costumes. But ”too scary”? Discouraging vampires? I was a vampire for Halloween once. Come on. Just how wimpy is society these days? Let the kids have fun. Halloween is supposed to be scary; that’s the whole damn point.

YARNLADY's avatar

I am in favor of limitations on anything that resembles a weapon, and rules against inappropriate (sexy) costumes or any that would be insensitive to others.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I think more damage is done by stifling a child’s creativity and expression.

fundevogel's avatar

I think the costumes should be subject to no more or less rules than are already in the student code of conduct. If it says no weapons real or fake then that isn’t ordinarily allowed and it is reasonable to assume that the reasons it isn’t allowed continue to be a reason on Halloween.

There is one problem though. My old schools’ always had a rule forbidding “distracting” or “disruptive” clothing. That rules out pretty much any costuming. Actually I think my last year in highschool they did forbid any of us dress up. That didn’t work.

Jeruba's avatar

Right. No witches, no ghosts, no goblins, no skeletons. It’s Halloween! Let’s celebrate fruits and vegetables. In fact, we could put them in a big cornucopia and say a prayer over them. No pumpkins, though. Too scary.

Dr_C's avatar

When i was in high school 3 friends got expelled… one dressed as a penis and the other 2 as testicles. <i laughed my ass off at the time but it was completely innapropriate (take into account that this was a catholic prep school) and it was deserving of punishment. I don´t really view what the public schools are doing as censorship. It´s more like prevention. They are trying to avoid any negative situations that may or may not arise due to innapropriate or offensive costumes.

ratboy's avatar

@Jeruba: When you write “fruits and vegetables,” are you impugning the folks who set school policy?

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

hell, kids don’t even get to go trick or treating anymore, not since the media has scared their parents into thinking that predators are behind every tree.

holden's avatar

@Dr_C that’s awesome. Your friends are fine by me.

casheroo's avatar

Is every kid supposed to be a pumpkin? How boring.

I understand the basis of what they’re asking. No weapons and nothing sexual. But, they seem to cross the line with the whole “no scary” I mean, what does that even mean? I remember being a witch for the parade in 2nd grade, with the green face and all. Those parades were always so much fun. I don’t recall ever being scared!

Supacase's avatar

Can someone give me an example of a “saddening” costume?

ragingloli's avatar

they should be allowed to wear what they want. to hell with “insensitive to others”.

Darwin's avatar

No weapons and nothing sexual are both appropriate rules that are in force in the every day dress code as well. However, I believe in freedom of religion, so if someone wants to dress up as a witch or a ghost, fine.

LostInParadise's avatar

I remember when there was talk of books of fairy tales being too scary for children. This was so absurd. Who did they think these books were written for? Octogenarians? Halloween costumes are largely of the characters of fairy tales – witches, ghosts, demons and princesses. There is nothing wrong with kids wearing these costumes once a year. However, weapons made of anything stronger than cardboard should not be permitted for safety reasons. The trend toward sexy costumes for children is a little saddening and I suppose should be considered inappropriate.

MissAusten's avatar

My kids’ schools have those kinds of rules, and it has never impeded their costume choice or creativity. I think if you take the rules for what they are, and don’t read too much into it, they are fine. For example, I’ve seen quite a few witches, ghosts, vampires, and skeletons and school Halloween functions.

@gemiwing has it right about the weapons. My son was Anakin Skywalker this year, and if he’d taken his light saber to preschool, someone probably would have been accidentally whacked with that thing.

Younger kids can easily be scared of masks, not understanding that the person under the mask is the same person they see when the mask is off. As for keeping the gore and violence to a minimum, that’s something schools should do, IMO. The school is responsible for creating a safe learning in environment, and if banning certain types of costumes lets them do that (while covering their own asses against parents who feel that a zombie costume is psychologically damaging to their child), so be it.

I think the rules are about keeping the holiday fun for younger kids and from being too distracting or disruptive for older kids.

Likeradar's avatar

The “too scary” part should be revised. Some more detail would be good. What counts as scary, and who gets to decide what’s scary versus funny? Someone could have a mouse phobia, or a clown phobia and be terrified… I think little vampires and ghosts would be adorable, but other people might find it too scary.
Aside from the vagueness of the wording though, it’s all fine by me. School is for learning, and allowing Halloween parties and costumes is an unnecessary but fun extra. I’m fine with the schools deciding what’s allowed and what’s not.

fundevogel's avatar

@Likeradar I’ve never actually seen a scary vampire costume. And even if there was one, the fake teeth invariable make them sound ridiculous when they talk.

small children + vampire = anklebiter

Jeruba's avatar

@Supacase, I’ve been wondering ever since you asked. I can’t think of one, unless it might be something like a Michael Jackson costume.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

to a certain extent, yeah it’s probably needed, but it seems, as often is the case, public school systems take things a little bit farther than they should. But I suppose that’s the question, where is the line drawn?

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther