The New Haven School District in Connecticut has decided to ask schools to ban clown costumes or “any symbols of terror” for Halloween celebrations amid a wave of “clown fear” sparked by threatening clown-related social media posts.
Authorities in more than two dozen states — including at K-12 schools and colleges — are investigating reports that scary clowns have threatened harm. As a result, as my Post colleagues Joe Heim and T. Rees Shapiro reported, schools have been forced “to respond seriously to a growing national hysteria that many had previously regarded as a laughing matter.”
In New Haven, officials don’t want clown costumes showing up at school — even though, a school district message to parents said that “there is no indication” of “any real or substantial threat to New Haven Public Schools or students.”
This is hardly the first time that schools have banned costumes. Many schools have long banned costumes depicting violent characters, including Superheroes, or that are gory or sexualized. Fake weapons are a no-go.
In 2015, a California elementary school banned any racially or ethnically based costumes, including Native American costumes. In 2013, an Illinois high school senior who wore a Jesus Christ costume to school — with a white toga, sandals, cross necklace and a crown of thorns — was ordered to remove it because officials said it portrayed a religious stereotype, a newspaper reported. A few years ago the University of Colorado at Boulder issued a statement asking students to be careful about wearing costumes that could be insulting to someone’s culture.
And some schools have simply banned all Halloween costumes — and Halloween celebrations, for that matter. Last year, a New Jersey elementary school sent a letter to parents saying that there would be no Halloween parties. It said in part:
“In the past, in-school celebrations of Halloween have made many of our students feel left out… (and as) a result, after careful consultation and deliberation, we have decided not to hold in-school Halloween activities.”
Here’s the message to parents from the New Haven public school district:
Parent Link Message Regarding Clowns
This is an important message from New Haven Public Schools.
District Administrators are working with NHPD [New Haven Police Department] to investigate the authenticity of a number of clown-related Instagram posts that have been brought to our attention.
Unfortunately, clown-themed posturing has been a growing trend throughout the country, particularly on social media. At this time there is no indication this incident poses any real or substantial threat to New Haven Public Schools or Students. We do however take these incidents very seriously; In light of this incident, we will continue to monitor the situation throughout the week and take all necessary precautions to ensure student and staff safety in all our schools.
Until additional information is available, New Haven Public Schools Director of Security Thaddeus Reddish asks that principals and building leaders prohibit clown costumes and any symbols of terror during this Halloween season. To ensure student safety, parents are encouraged to assist in ensuring students refrain from these costumes this season.
We will continue to keep you informed with additional information as it becomes available.
New Haven Public Schools