8 Halloween Costumes That Have Been Banned By Schools


Sometimes Halloween can be more tricks than treats. People of all ages love to dress up as their favorite pop culture characters or other cool things, but some costumes can be more controversial than others. Some schools have chosen to ban Halloween completely. Others have compiled lists of inappropriate and offensive costumes like the ones below that students are not allowed to wear.


In 2013, a student at Highland Park High School in Illinois was made to remove his Jesus costume because the school said it was “offensive” and that he was “promoting religion.” The senior told the press that he wore the costume because Jesus was the “most influential person” in his life, but the school upheld their policy against costumes that could be offensive to someone’s religion, culture, gender, heritage, or sexual orientation.




The Halloween staples were thought to be too scary for some children, so administrators at an unidentified school sent a letter to parents ahead of the holiday. Written in Comic Sans, the notice, which was shared on reddit in 2014, states that superheroes including (but not limited to) Wolverine, Batman, Superman, the Power Rangers, and “any of the Fantastic 4” are not allowed, and neither are witches, ghosts, or any other costume that would be “scary to a small child.”




In 2013, the Dean at the University of Colorado Boulder issued a memo to the student body asking them to “consider the impact [their] costume decision may have on others in the CU community.” Featured on the list of frowned-upon Halloween garb were “costumes that portray particular cultural identities as overly sexualized, such as geishas, 'squaws,' or stereotypical, such as cowboys and Indians.” The memo also asked that students not host parties whose themes could be considered offensive, like “ghetto” or “white trash/hillbilly.”




The Guild of Students at the University of Birmingham stopped its peers from participating in what it called “discriminatory behavior” by banning certain costumes at events, including sombreros and ponchos that some students wore to dress like “Mexicans.”


In 1999, parents in Littleton, Colo. and other towns in America convinced schools to ban trench coats and all-black clothing year-round because the goth fashion was too closely associated with the students responsible for the Columbine High School shooting. “School administrators started considering these groups to be gangs and harassment of students was rampant with unwarranted backpack searches, detainment in the hallways by security guards, and being called into the administrative offices for questioning,” student Jennifer Muzquiz told CNN at the time.


According to reports, an Eastchester, N.Y. school once banned cross-dressing to “stop students from mocking gay, bisexual and transgendered students as a costume prank.” In 2014, an advocacy group objected to the ban but the superintendent, Walter Moran, stood behind the decision. “Any student has the absolute right to cross-dress any day or days, and the school respects that student's personal decision,” read a statement by Moran. “In an effort to respect the race, religion and gender of our students, we believe that Halloween costumes should not make light of this.”




At Quinnipiac University, the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer said that insensitive costumes, including “blackface, or as a Mexican, hooker, gangster or promiscuous nurse,” were just as offensive as “writing the ‘N-word’ on a blackboard or a chalkboard or a whiteboard in the dorms or in the residence halls.”


An elementary school in New Jersey wanted to compromise with parents and their children in 2007, so they allowed some costumes to be worn without the accessories. The New York Times reported that throughout the school there were gun-less cowboys, swordless pirates, and devils without pitchforks. “When you consider all the horrific things that have happened in recent years, including 9/11,” said a teacher at the school, “I can’t blame any school for wanting to steer away from anything that might promote violence.”

Putu Sayoga, Getty Images
Bali Is Suspending Mobile Web Service for Its Sacred Day of Silence
Putu Sayoga, Getty Images
Putu Sayoga, Getty Images

Nyepi, a Hindu holiday that celebrates the Saka new year, is a sacred tradition on the Indonesian island of Bali. It's a time for silence and mindful meditation, practices that might pose a challenge to a plugged-in generation of smartphone users. To ensure the day passes with as few distractions as possible, religious and civilian leaders in Bali have asked telecommunications companies to shut off their data for 24 hours, AP reports.

From 6 a.m. on Saturday, March 17 until 6 a.m. on Sunday, March 18, Bali residents will be unable to access online news, social media, or any other form of web content on their phones. “Let’s rest a day, free from the internet to feel the calm of the mind,” Gusti Ngurah Sudiana, head of the Indonesian Hinduism Society, said according to AP.

Shutting off mobile data for a full day may sound extreme, but it's just one way the island will respectfully observe the holiday. Throughout Nyepi, Balinese shops and the island's sole airport are closed, and television programs and radio broadcasts are paused. Officials first asked cell phone companies to suspend their data last year, but this is the first year they agreed to comply with the request. An exception will be made for hotels, hospitals, banks, and other vital public services.

Nyepi is followed by Ngembak Geni, a day that also encourages self-introspection. But unlike Nyepi, Ngembak Geni is a day when people are allowed to socialize, even if it is online.

[h/t AP]

Big Questions
How Do They Dye the Chicago River Green for St. Patrick's Day?

It wouldn’t be a St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the Windy City without 400,000 spectators crowding the banks of the Chicago River to “ooh” and “aah” at its (temporarily) emerald green tinge. But how do officials turn the water green?

First, a bit of history: The dyeing tradition became an annual thing nearly 60 years ago, in 1962, but its real origins go back even further. In the early days of his administration as Mayor of Chicago, Richard J. Daley was a man on a mission to develop the city’s riverfront area. There was just one problem: The river itself was a sewage-filled eyesore. In order to get to the bottom of the city’s pollution problem and pinpoint the exact places where waste was being discarded into the waterway (and by whom), Daley authorized the pouring of a special green dye into the river that would allow them to see exactly where dumping was occurring.

Fast-forward to late 1961 when Stephen Bailey—part of the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local, the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade chairman, and a childhood friend of Daley’s—witnessed a colleague’s green-soaked coveralls following a day of pouring Daley’s dye into the Chicago River. That gave Bailey an idea: If they could streak the Chicago River green, why not turn it all green?

Three months later, revelers got their first look at an Ecto Cooler-colored river when the city poured 100 pounds of the chemical into the water. They got a really good look, too, as the river remained green for an entire week.

Over the next several years, the same practice was repeated, and again it was carried out by the Plumbers Local. The only difference was that the amount of dye used was cut in half over the next two years until they finally arrived at the magic number: 25 pounds of dye = one day of green water.

Unfortunately, the dye that was intended to help spot pollution was an oil-based fluorescein that many environmentalists warned was actually damaging the river even more. After fierce lobbying, eco-minded heads prevailed, and in 1966 the parade organizers began using a powdered, vegetable-based dye.

While the exact formula for the orange powder (yes, it's orange until it's mixed with water) is kept top-secret—in 2003 one of the parade organizers told a reporter that revealing the formula would be akin to “telling where the leprechaun hides its gold”—there are plenty of details that the committee lets even non-leprechauns in on.

The dyeing process will begin at 9 a.m. on the morning of the parade, Saturday, March 17 (it's always held on a Saturday) when six members of the local Plumbers Union hop aboard two boats, four of them on the larger vessel, the remaining two on a smaller boat.

The larger boat heads out onto the water first, with three members of the crew using flour sifters to spread the dye into the river. The smaller boat follows closely behind in order to help disperse the substance. (The best place to catch a glimpse is from the east side of the bridge at Michigan Avenue, or on Upper and Lower Wacker Drive between Columbus and Lake Shore Drives.)

Approximately 45 minutes later, voila, the Chicago River is green—but don’t expect it to stay that way. These days, the color only sticks around for about five hours. Which is roughly the same amount of time it takes to get a perfectly poured pint of Guinness if you venture out to an Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at