Mormon Halloween Party Bans Cross-Dressing Costumes

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Girls and a Boy in Halloween Costumes Run From Their House

Any girl dressing up as, say, Mr. Potato Head or any boy donning a Lady Gaga outfit (a rather easy gender-bending costume choice) this Halloween were left out in the cold at one recent party in Utah.

One affiliate of the famously conservative Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints circulated a flier in a Sandy, Utah neighborhood inviting costumed kids to their Halloween party. But on the holiday where usually anything goes, there were a couple of surprising restrictions at this Mormon party. “Please no masks or cross-gender dressing,” the flyer read.

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The church ward hosted the party Tuesday at their local church. But certainly some local children were left out by the invitation, which implied that their choice of costume was somehow inappropriate. One neighborhood resident, who isn’t part of the Mormon church, said she was “appalled” by the invite. Raquel Smith said the flyer sent a message that was “fear-mongering and hate driven,” by forbidding kids the option to choose any costume they want. Smith admits she was ashamed of the community.

But LDS Bishop Dennis Toone, presider over the church ward hosting the party, claimed it’s written in the Latter-day Saints’ doctrine to forbid both masks and cross-dressing. But this claim was denied by LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter who told the Salt-Lake Tribune, ” The flier does not represent church policy.” Indeed, the church’s handbook discourages masks because of security concerns, but the Tribune notes they found nothing about gender-bending costumes.

But all costume commotion aside, it seems to us that even the party was a watered-down version of Halloween. They group hosted a so-called “trunk-or-treat” event, where kids don costumes in a parking lot and collect candy from every car. Sounds like the least scary version of Halloween we can imagine – and what is this holiday without a little fear of the unknown?

Though we wonder if girls dressed as Justin Bieber would have passed muster.

(See the flyer below)

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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Michael Westley / Facebook / The Dallas Voice