Blackfaced Zwarte Piet "racist", banned from Utrecht elementary schools

. ()

An organization that governs 32 public elementary schools in Utrecht says that Sinterklaas celebrations in the schools will no longer include the maligned blackface character Zwarte Piet. "An important principle of public primary education in Utrecht is that everyone is equal," the organization SPO Utrecht stated on Wednesday.

"However, the figure of Zwarte Piet has racist attributes," the organization added, citing statements by , the , and the as support. The board of directors made the decision because Zwarte Piet contravenes their classroom policy against discrimination "on the basis of creed, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, political beliefs, appearance or other characteristics."

The decision was announced just two weeks after schools in , a decision that .

"As previously mentioned, Zwarte Piet, and other hurtful negative stereotypes, have no place in the Sinterklaas parties in our schools," SPO Utrecht said. "We do not want children to feel hurt by our educational offerings. We offer children, all children, a safe and pleasant learning environment."