Report: NJ School District Bans Halloween Festivities, Citing ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’

Ryan Rahman/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Students in a New Jersey school district have been barred from Halloween festivities during school hours in the name of  “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Earlier this month, superintendent of New Jersey’s South Orange and Maplewood school district, Dr. Ronald G. Taylor, explained to parents in a letter that Halloween would not be celebrated during school hours in an effort to promote “diversity, equity, and inclusion meaningfully,” The New York Times reported.

The district’s rationale behind the decision is “making sure no one feels excluded,” NBC New York reported. It is also purportedly aimed at protecting religious students who don’t celebrate Halloween or who cannot afford a costume.

Taylor said in the letter that he realizes his decision to cancel Halloween “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, fostering inclusion, and building a sense of belonging throughout our schools,” the letter reads.

The district said its ten school principals were “overwhelmingly in favor” of canceling Halloween festivities at school in favor of holding some kind of fall festival instead, according to NBC.

“I fully support that policy. I have three kids in the district, and for a longtime the elementary school didn’t really celebrate much during the school day for this exact reason. And honestly, having three kids, it’s kind of annoying having to get them ready and a costume,” Maplewood parent Megan Goslink told the outlet.

However, New Jersey’s Democrat Gov., Phil Murphy, did not seem as enthusiastic about the school district’s decision.

“Seriously? We can’t let kids celebrate Halloween? Give me a break,” the governor wrote in a post to X on Tuesday.

Murphy’s posted reportedly “sparked a media firestorm and set local parents’ groups on Facebook buzzing, reigniting the same tense discussion that began weeks prior with Dr. Taylor’s letter,” the Times reported.

The district’s decision is “part of a larger movement to reframe Halloween…mostly related to equity and inclusion efforts,” the report states.

A spokesperson for the South Orange and Maplewood said its position has not changed, despite the governor’s open dislike of its decision.
“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, the assistant superintendent of access and equity, said in a statement. “Often, working to instill greater equity in our district begins with recognizing that we cannot do what we have always done.”
Taylor said he expects some elementary schools in the district to move ahead with plans for a fall or harvest festival on Halloween, according to the report.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.