DEI push leads Fresno Unified to ban “Colonial Day” costumes at GATE school

The district argues that the historic costumes of Colonial America don’t reflect the current population of Fresno.

Students at Manchester GATE Elementary School will not be allowed to wear costumes for Colonial Day on Thursday. 

The decision from Fresno Unified School District to ban costumes is a first at the school, which has traditionally allowed students to dress up in colonial costumes to step back into history. 


Driving the news: GV Wire reported Wednesday that Manchester GATE sent out an email to parents on Tuesday saying that costumes will not be allowed. 

  • FUSD’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion department – known as DEI – is behind the move. 
  • FUSD spokesperson Nikki Henry told GV Wire that the district’s DEI department and School Leadership departments have been reviewing the learning benefits and the potential harm from these sorts of events. 
  • According to the report, parents and staffers raised “several” concerns about holding colonial dress up days at Manchester GATE and other schools. 
  • Students at Manchester GATE have been dressing up for Colonial Day for at least the past decade. 
  • While costumes are banned on Thursday, Fresno Unified will allow the students to dress up on Friday – just not officially as part of the Colonial Day program. 

What they’re saying: Henry told GV Wire that dressing up as European colonists is not necessary for learning, nor is it inclusive or representative of Fresno Unified’s current student population. 

  • “Learning about the trades/occupations of that time and playing of old-fashioned games will continue, and the costume portion of the events has become a show and tell on Friday,” Henry said. “To be clear, nothing was canceled and no one person made the decision to tweak this year’s events.”
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