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The real reason schools shouldn't ban Halloween

Julie Ryan Evans is an editor and writer who has covered everything from Capitol Hill to the politics of preschool. A mother of two, a runner of races, and a gourmet chef wannabe, she currently lives outside of Orlando, Florida.

Stop trying to ruin Halloween by banning school celebrations

Every year, as the sugar level in the air becomes palpable and there are pumpkins and pumpkin-flavored everything everywhere, the same issue comes up: schools banning Halloween.

Some justify their fun-squashing ways by pointing out that costumes are just too much trouble for teachers to deal with, while other schools cite safety for their Halloween ban. Making headlines this year is a Connecticut school that banned Halloween celebrations because it was worried about children "being excluded from activities due to religion, cultural beliefs, etc." (No word on what the "etc." might be.) Fortunately, after parents fought back, this school reversed its decision, and Halloween can go on as planned, but it surely won't be the last ban we see, and it's got to stop.

If a parent doesn't want his or her child to participate in a holiday celebration for whatever reason, they should have the option to opt out, absolutely. However, we simply can't ban everything that makes anyone uncomfortable, or there will be nothing left to celebrate — or even learn about, for that matter.

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As for the worry about a child feeling excluded, that's a parent's job to explain to their children why sometimes your beliefs set you apart and how it's not a bad thing. Trying to include everyone in everything teaches our child that being different is a bad thing. It's not. Throughout life, they may feel excluded for their beliefs — for not drinking at a party when everyone else is, for not joining in on gossip when others are. While those aren't school-sponsored events, why not use a lesson such as Halloween to teach them about staying true to your beliefs instead of ruining the fun for everyone else?

When it comes to safety and the hassle for teachers, it can be figured out. Enlist the help of parents, set rules, whatever, but these celebrations have been going on for years and years, and our kids deserve to continue the tradition — in full costume. This is the memory-making stuff. Sure, the focus in school should be primarily on learning, but everyone needs a little fun sometimes. Costumes are fun!

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Primarily, though, there is one big reason schools should hold Halloween celebrations that no one can deny: the costumes. Parents and children spend countless hours and dollars dreaming up the perfect ones and bringing them to life. Those creations deserve as many eyeballs as possible, and school provides the perfect audience.

If those precious costumes aren't seen in the light of day at school, there's a good chance no one will ever see them at all. That means all those stitches sewn, feathers glued on, money spent out of guilt because there's no way in hell we would even attempt to make a costume ourselves — they're all for naught.

Halloween rule No. 1 is that you don't go out trick-or-treating until it's dark — dark! Who is going to see your costume in the dark? Pretty much no one. Sure, there are porch lights, but when you're crowded up next to 20 kids who are trying to jostle for the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, you most certainly are not in the spotlight, on center stage.

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There's also the weather to consider. In many parts of the country, it's freezing out come Oct. 31. Parkas don't fit under princess gowns, and ski caps and wigs don't really mix. All that work… covered up.

Perhaps it's a selfish reason — OK, it's a totally selfish reason — but if we're putting in the time and effort to make our kids' dreams come true, we need they deserve a few "ooohs" and "awwws" for our efforts. Think of the fingers bloodied with sewing needles, the glue that spilled on the carpet and the sleep deprivation parents suffered, all in the name of these costumes.

Halloween costumes deserve as many hours of high-visibility use as possible before they are cast aside for good, and schools should do their part to help us out. All that hassle just for a picture and a couple of random comments on a porch step feels like much more of a trick than a treat. No one is giving that much extra candy out just for a creative costume to make it worth it otherwise.

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