Kids, News

School Board Bans Offensive Hallowe’en Costumes

Children dressed in costumes out to Trick or Treat. Image: jarekt

In about a week, many children will be going out for Hallowe’en. They may also dress up on Oct. 31 at school.

One school board in Ontario has written up a list of guidelines for Hallowe’en costumes. They don’t want anyone to be offended by what another child wears as their costume.

Lots of schools ask kids not to wear very scary costumes or ones that include toy weapons. The Conseil scolaire Viamonde (SCV), a French school board in Ontario, has taken things a step further. SCV runs 13 schools in Toronto.

The Viamonde school district asked parents to make sure their child doesn’t come to school in a costume that “can make others feel upset, insulted or humiliated,” according to the Globe and Mail news website in an Oct. 10 article by reporter Caroline Alphonso. The school board outlined the guidelines in a letter emailed home to parents entitled, “Mon costume est-il approprié?” (“Is My Costume Appropriate?”).

The guidelines ask students not to wear costumes that mock another culture, represent a stereotype or “involve changing the colour of the child’s skin,” according to the Globe article.

They don’t want children to wear costumes such as “cowboys and Indians” that are about sad or awful moments in history such as the oppression of First Nations people.

Other school organizations, including the Toronto District School Board and the University of Toronto have sent out guidelines about what Hallowe’en costumes they consider appropriate, according to CBC News.

A representative from the Viamonde school district told CBC’s As It Happens (a news radio show) that they want to start a discussion about being more sensitive to people’s feelings and cultures. She said no children will be sent home, even if they’re not wearing an appropriate costume.

By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
What is the most creative costume you’ve ever worn? If you could dress up as anything, what would it be? Why would it be a fantastic costume? What would you need to do in order to pull it off?

Reading Prompt: Responding to and Evaluating Texts
Do you think costume rules are a good idea? Why do you think so? Would you support the same school rules as SCV?

Express personal opinions about ideas presented in texts
 (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Make judgements and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views 
 (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Evaluate the effectiveness of both simple and complex texts based on evidence from the texts 
(OME, Reading: 1.8).

Language Feature: Evolving Words
Words evolve over time. “Halloween” is an example of a word that has changed. “Hallowe’en,” now often called “Halloween,” was originally “All Hallows’ Evening.”

Other words that have evolved, according to the Oxford English Dictionary: connexion (connection), dout (doubt), shew (show). The earlier spellings are from the 13th – 15th century. Oxford Dictionaries