The decision to cancel the Pumpkin Parade, where students can dress up in Halloween costumes, came from the Racial Equity Team at Benjamin Franklin Day Elementary School after five years of discussion, the school district said.
"There are numerous community and neighborhood events where students and families who wish to can celebrate Halloween," a Seattle Public Schools spokeswoman said in a statement provided to KTTH Radio talk show host Jason Rantz. "Historically, the Pumpkin Parade marginalizes students of color who do not celebrate the holiday. Specifically, these students have requested to be isolated on campus while the event took place.
"In alliance with SPS’s unwavering commitment to students of color, specifically African American males, the staff is committed to supplanting the Pumpkin Parade with more inclusive and educational opportunities during the school day," the statement continued, adding that the decision had nothing to do with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
School principal Stanley Jaskot confirmed that the parade was cancelled.
"Halloween is a very complex issue for schools. Yes, I agree this event marginalized our students of color. Several of our students historically opted for an alternate activity in the library while the pumpkin parade took place. This was an isolating situation and not consistent with our values of being an inclusive and safe place for all our students – especially students of color and those with a sensitivity to all the noise and excitement of the parade," Jaskot told Fox News.
The school informed parents of the cancellation in an Oct. 8 newsletter and asked that they not let their children dress up in costumes this year. The newsletter explained that costume parties can be uncomfortable for many children who can’t afford one and that loud noise levels and crowds can also be upsetting for kids, Rantz reported.
Instead, students this year will partake in inclusive fall events, like "thematic units of study about the fall" and reviewing "autumnal artwork," according to the newsletter obtained by Rantz.
David Malkin, whose 7-year-old son attends B.F. Day, called the decision an "exercise in affluent White vanity that is wokeism."
"I don't see any way in which this actually addresses any inequities to the extent that there are any inequities," Malkin told Rantz on his show Monday. "You know, this just seems like grandstanding on behalf of the principal and the staff who are predominantly White."
Malkin, who is Asian, said parents weren't involved in the decision.
"I'm sure they don't want to hear from anyone of any race or ethnicity that doesn't really want to go along with them in lockstep," he said.