2 Calgary schools ban scary Halloween costumes

Some parents support and others disapprove of a ban on scary costumes after staff at the Colonel Walker and Ramsay schools in the southeast asked parents to focus on "caring" costumes that don't come with masks, weapons and "gruesome" makeup.

Some elementary students will have to go from ‘scary’ to ‘caring’ this Halloween

Some parents say a ban on scary Halloween costumes at two Calgary elementary schools is going too far.

'We've been involved with the school with a couple kids now, since ’95, and they've always encouraged us not to have gory costumes'— parent Adrienne Weare

Staff at the Colonel Walker and Ramsay schools in the southeast, which have the same principal under Michelle Speight, have banned costumes that come with masks, weapons and "gruesome" makeup.

"It is going a little too far, and a lot of parents have been very upset because they just want their children to express themselves," said Heather Cameron, a student’s parent at Colonel Walker. 

Parents of the students are being asked to swap violent or scary costumes for more "caring" outfits instead.

'Taken out of context'

Parent Rebecca O’Brien said the situation has become bigger than it actually is. ((CBC))

But not all parents are upset by the ban and say the situation has been blown out of proportion.

"We've been involved with the school with a couple kids now, since ’95, and they've always encouraged us not to have gory costumes," said Adrienne Weare.

Another parent Rebecca O’Brien said some costumes can get pretty gruesome and some of the younger students could be frightened by them.

O'Brien said while using the word "caring" can seem silly, this costume debate highlights a bigger issue in society where people feel their traditions are under fire because of cultural sensitivities. 

"This situation is taken out of context," she said. "This is really just respect the students, leave the gory stuff at the door, come in and have fun and do what you want after school."

She said the schools and the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) are often caught in the dilemma of trying not to offend anyone.

All schools celebrate differently

Calgary Board of Education spokesperson Richard Peter says it's up to each school how to celebrate Halloween. ((CBC) )

CBE spokesperson Richard Peter said the decision on what type of Halloween celebration there is on Monday remains with each school and should reflect their culture.

"Certainly we have a huge school system, so we want to take into account all the diverse cultures that we have," he said. "In some schools it means that there is no school celebration of Halloween because that's appropriate for that culture, in others it’s a full-on celebration."

Peter said the two schools had consulted with its school councils, which includes some parents, on Sept. 21 before sending out a letter Oct. 4 to parents outlining the plan.

He said there might have been some confusion around the word "caring," the school just doesn’t want extremely violent costumes.

But other parents say the ban on scary or gory costumes isn't going to achieve anything.

"You're protecting them a little too much because it’s out there anyways," said mom Lara Handley.

"It’s nothing that they won’t come across on their own through TV, through schools, through their siblings, through even other kids they are going to see on the streets."