The eleven year old daughter of a friend of mine stormed into her principal’s office recently to demand why they weren’t being allowed to wear their Halloween costumes to school this Thursday.
The reason given was that not everyone celebrates Halloween, so this makes it more fair. I would guess the word may even have been inclusive.
Halloween isn’t a big deal for everyone. Some religions don’t acknowledge Halloween. And it’s one of those things that new immigrants possibly scratch their heads over (last year I gave candy to 2 girls who barely spoke English and who weren’t dressed up, but who dutifully held out their pillowcases while their mother looked on from the driveway).
But income is also an issue. Families who don’t make a lot of money likely won’t have disposable income for something as fleeting as a Halloween costume – or a good one anyway (and in elementary school I would imagine that it’s almost worse to have a bad costume than no costume).
So the principal’s intentions are good.
My friend’s daughter wasn’t impressed. No surprise there.
Inclusion can be tough, especially since income can be such a very large barrier to participation and people can be judgmental and mean. But my point is this: it is common that when we make efforts to become more inclusive our first response is to remove things instead of finding creative ways to make the event more inclusive, or broadening our awareness of things to acknowledge.
In this case, the school could be losing an opportunity to have a fun day. The solution would likely look very different from the starting point, but it could keep the spirit of celebration. That’s the spirit of inclusion.
copyright 2013 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, Speaker and Facilitator on issues of Diversity & Inclusion