Should Students Dress Up for Halloween?

Halloween- the night of candy, crazy kids, and my favorite part, costumes. In the past, Wake County has made it a point to have school off on this holiday. This year, however, they cancelled the day after instead. Much better, if you ask me–we can stay up later and get sugar crazy without driving teachers insane.

Halloween week is also the week of Gatorfest, our costume packed spirit week. It got me thinking… even on the days we had school on Halloween, I’ve never been allowed to dress up. Why so?

After looking through the Wake County Policies, I couldn’t find anything against costumes on Halloween. Students seem to be at least partially on board. When asked, freshman Lindsey Toman replied, “Yes, for sure. It lets people show off their creativity and it’s very fun!” Sophomore Sapna Kamath had more doubt. “It depends, because people want to wear all these inappropriate outfits.”

That’s a good point, but it could always be regulated by costume dress codes.  If that’s the only reason, why do most schools still not do it? This article gave some more insight, along with this and this.

One of the reasons is that the costumes can be unintentionally discriminatory. Perhaps the best known example of this is a non-indigeous student applying red paint and a feather headress to become a stereotypical Native American. This costume has been seen as insensitive and mocking towards indigeous students and staff members. Other examples include dressing as someone in an asylum–a hurtful stereotype to the mentally ill; crossdressing–which can be seen as mocking LGBT+ communities; or dressing as a Geisha girl to try and look ‘Asian.’

Another reason is because the costumes can be promoting bad actions. With the culture here in America, it’s not surprising that we don’t want plastic guns in a cowboy costume, or a ski mask for a robber. These costumes are not appropriate for school. On the topic of weapons, is it really a good idea to let high schoolers near swords and nunchucks? Even if they aren’t real, they can still hurt. It’s not just weapons, entire costumes such as a bank robber, a prisoner, or similar roles aren’t something that should be put in a school environment. 

Finally, most schools ban costumes for those students that don’t celebrate Halloween. I know many Muslim students who don’t celebrate the holiday, and I’m sure the same is true for other religions. While Halloween is not anything demonic, it still originates from Celtic and Christian beliefs–read more about it on this Gators Eye story. This can make others uncomfortable about the holiday. We also can’t forget about the endless angel and demon costumes, and even the occasional Jesus.  

I expected myself to come out laughing about all these rules, but honestly? They all make perfect sense to me.  However, I think we could have solutions. Spirit week is one of them. Letting students dress up with specific themes lets them have fun and the school is free from worry. Plus, Gatorfest has different themes daily! Schools could also regulate this by setting rules, having a list of inappropriate items or costumes, or just bringing an extra change of clothes to change out if the look gets past the administration. I do think that we should be allowed to dress up. When we reach highschool, we start being told we’re ‘too old’ for this holiday. Costumes are fun for all ages, and they’re a great way to show our creativity. If you ask me, I’ll say costumes are for everyone. Even if school has its limits, we should let the outfits come at least in some form.

Costumes can be tricky to fit into the school day, but when they do, it can be scary fun. We’ll enjoy Gatorfest either way.