Celebrating an Inclusive Halloween

Updated: Nov 12, 2018

Halloween can be so much fun with kids… I personally love getting dressed up with mine, and then stealing most of their candy. But as I’ve learned over the years, it’s also a holiday that can unintentionally lead to some people feeling a diminished sense of belonging. Even though Adams is asking that kids don’t wear costumes to school, the Equity Committee thought it could still be helpful to share some Halloween best-practices, so that everyone in the Adams community can have an awesome time outside of school.

In terms of costumes, we recommend a few sanity checks, to ensure that your kids’ (or your own) costumes couldn’t be interpreted as making fun of, or presenting a stereotypical view of, any individual or group of people. Ask yourself:

Does the costume make reference to a culture that is not my own (e.g. a feather headdress which resembles a First Nations ceremonial headdress, a kimono, a turban)?Does the costume’s packaging contain words like “tribal,” “warrior,” or any references to a group of people identifiable by their origin (“African,” “Chinese,” or “Mexican,”) or their culture (“Rasta,” or “Gypsy”)?If the costume represents another gender than your child’s (for example, your son wants to dress up as a girl), what is the intention? Is it to look ridiculous? Is it to mock the bodies or mannerisms of others? Does the costume mock transgender people?Does the costume require your kid to change the colour of their skin to resemble someone who is not from the same background as them?

There are so many funny, scary and creative costumes out there, that this list shouldn’t be limiting! And maybe it will help save some unintended hurt feelings.

Another thing to consider, if you’re planning to cater to trick-o-treaters on Halloween, is making your house inclusive for a variety of kids. With 1 in 13 children having food allergies, providing a non-food treat can mean a lot to some kids. If you do that, consider putting a teal pumpkin in front of your house to let people know. It’s also a nice idea to hand out treats in a well-lit, accessible area if possible, so that children with vision or mobility issues can still participate. And, copying a widely circulated empathy reminder here for us all to keep in mind as we greet trick-or-treaters:

The child who is grabbing more than one piece of candy may have difficulty with their fine motor skillsThe child who takes forever to pick out one piece of candy may have motor planning issuesThe child who does not say, “trick or treat”, may be non-verbalThe child who isn’t wearing a costume at all might have a sensory issue (SPD) or autismThe child who looks disappointed when they see your bowl might have an allergy or be diabetic

We hope you have a fantastic Halloween! And remember, if anyone identifies as Native American and would like to share some thoughts or experiences from the perspective of an Adams parent for our Native American Heritage Month post next month, please contact Rebekah.

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