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Pennywise Isn’t Welcome at Los Angeles Public Schools, as District Continues Its Clown Ban for Halloween

The creepy "It" character is predicted to be a hot Halloween costume — just don't bring him on campus.



Brooke Palmer

They all float down here. Except, apparently, on Los Angeles Unified School District campuses.

For the second year in a row, the LAUSD has banned all clown costumes and masks for Halloween. That includes, of course, what’s expected to be the most popular Halloween costume of the year: Pennywise, from the blockbuster smash thriller “It.”

Clowns are actually having a moment in pop culture, as FX’s hit series “American Horror Story: Cult” is crawling with them. (And, of course, had previously introduced the now-iconic clown Twisty on “American Horror Story: Freak Show.”) Krusty the Clown from “The Simpsons” and Zach Galiafianakis’ Chip Baskets continue on the comedy side.

And even reality competition shows aren’t immune to a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants, as “Puddles Pity Party” (real name: Mike Geier) was a contender on this year’s “America’s Got Talent.”

A report by Pinterest and Lyst predicts that Pennywise will be the most popular costume of 2017. “Pinterest​ ​saves​ ​for​ ​clown​ ​make-up​ ​and​ ​costume​ ​ideas​ ​are​ ​up​ ​941%” year-over-year, according to Lyst. “We’ve tracked fashion searches for exaggerated ruffled shoulder shirts and white gloves, and noticed a 14% increase in searches for lace up pom-pom sneakers in the last month alone.”

But the LAUSD is serious when it comes to keeping those creepy clowns away from school. “The clown costumes were banned due to incidents that occurred when the suspects wore clown outfits, and posted the images on social media sites,” a school district spokesperson told IndieWire. “This happened last October. These masks prompted warnings from law enforcement agencies around the region.”

LAUSD pointed to stories from last October about falsely reported sightings of creepy clowns attempting to lure kids in South Carolina. But the reports spread across the country, including locally in Lancaster, where the L.A. Times reported that men wearing clown masks were “using a kitchen knife to frighten people and then videotaping their reactions.”

But things got more serious in Northern California, where apparently people online calling themselves the “ClownGang” threatened to kill or kidnap people at schools.

Last year’s frenzy even prompted “It” author Stephen King to write on Twitter, “Hey, guys, time to cool the clown hysteria — most of em are good, cheer up the kiddies, make people laugh.”

Beyond the clown ban, LAUSD also frowns on costumes that might “denigrate or defame other groups or ethnicities,” and also forbids ” weapons, toy weapons, or replicas of weapons.”

Twisty in “American Horror Story”


Here are the guidelines for costumes, via one LAUSD school:

• Must cover the body appropriately.
• Tops and bottoms must be worn at all times.
• Shall not denigrate or defame other groups or ethnicities.
• For the safety of all students, employees, and visitors, no clown costumes are to be worn on campus.
• No masks, gloves, lighters or markers allowed.
• No clown masks are allowed on any District property.
• No makeup that may obscure the identity of an individual may be worn on campus.
• No costume may be worn that is unsafe or that may create a safety hazard.
• No weapons, toy weapons, or replicas of weapons are allowed.
• No short shorts or short skirts.
• No bare midriffs.
• No tube tops.
• No excessively low-cut tops or low riding pants.
• No exposure of underwear.
• No see-through clothing.

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