The Jesus Church of Latter-day Saints and some of its members fought back against criticism Friday after a flier for a Halloween event said no ‘cross gender’ costumes were allowed, Utah’s Fox13 reported.
The flier for the trunk-or-treat-event, an LDS event where kids trick-or-treat in the parking lot of one of the religious centers, also specified that the children not wear masks.
Raquel Smith, a Sandy, Utah mother, told Fox13 that she felt the event sends the wrong message to the children.
"It has everything to do with not loving your fellow man because they choose to dress a specific way," Smith, who is not a Mormon, told the station.
"I think definitely a child as young as a toddler can understand when a parent says 'no honey, you can't be Spiderman or Harry Potter because you're a girl and that's a boy.' I think that immediately tells your child their decisions are wrong," Smith said.
The family of the bishop who leads the ward hosting the trunk-or-treat event said a women's group created the flier that went out to hundreds in the community.
In a published report, Bishop Dennis Toone defended the flier’s guidelines.
"I thought it was church policy. I'll defend the church and anyone who doesn't like it doesn't have to come,” he said.
LDS spokesperson, Scott Trotter, told Fox13 that the church dictates the no-mask policy for such events, but that the cross-dressing ban is not policy and event rules like that are up to the discretion of the bishop or church members. Trotter said that he does not know why such language was used, but assumes that it was a means to promote appropriate dress.
Fox13 spoke with one child psychologist who said that cross-dressing costumes on Halloween generally do not lead to gender confusion.
“There is no way we would be concerned about the child cross-dressing that way on Halloween,” Doug Goldsmith, a child psychologist and Executive Director of The Children Center, told the station. “There are many, many other times when we may start to see signs of gender confusion, but that is not associated with Halloween at all.”
Fox13 Talked to several LDS members who said that Smith’s claim was overblown and the goal was simply to get kids to dress appropriately at church events, but some in the community are just as upset as Smith.
“I don't think anyone should be excluded. I think if you're a Christian-loving person. I think everyone should love everybody. To exclude somebody is not fair," one resident told Fox 13.