School districts are divided on the best approach to celebrate Halloween. The most controversial stance has been banning it altogether. This move has elicited criticisms and praise from opposing sides and set the stage for a national conversation about free speech.
Halloween has become a dividing issue in the state of Illinois. The event which is celebrated on 31st October of every year is experiencing opposition from some school districts. While some schools such as Illinois’ North Shore School District 112 will be donning their attire and celebrating the event. Some districts will not be lucky to celebrate the event.
Evanston/Skokie School District 65 will not be celebrating their Halloween. Earlier this year, the school district made an announcement that it was banning all costumes that are related to Halloween. It was also cancelling celebration of the events in school.
This event caused national outrage and conversation surrounding the freedom of speech and expression and the justification of such a move by the school district.
The differences in the ideology of the two schools, just 15 miles from each other highlight the division surrounding the Halloween celebration. The pushback has come from Christian groups who argue that the celebration has pagan roots ingrained in it, therefore, they were not comfortable with the event being held at the school they attend.
The Christian schools also point to the school’s stance about Christmas. They feel that the school had already shown its true colors against the Christian holiday celebration. They argued that the school stance of Christmas discriminated against them when they opposed its celebration in the school. They also felt that the promotion of a pagan celebration is the epitome of hypocrisy being portrayed by the school.
Charles Haynes, founding director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute in Washington, D.C., however, said that the argument by the Christian groups did not hold true. He said that Halloween is a secular celebration in modern days and has no affiliation with any religious group.
The opposition to the event, however, had grown to include Jehova Witnesses and Muslims. Haynes said of the development,
If they can’t opt out reasonably, that’s not fair, So, naturally, the question comes up, ‘What is the educational value? And it’s really hard to defend Halloween on educational grounds.
This issue will continue dividing the nation on its legality and if the actions taken are appropriate. Proponents of the ban argue that it infringes on their rights to religious belief while the opponents have argued this is blatant disrespect to the first amendment that guarantees every individual right to free speech.
They also argue that even if had some religious aspects in it, they had the same constitutional right to hold the event as any other religion in the country.