Father-Daughter Dances Are Being Banned by School Districts

BY: - 20 Sep '12 | Home

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Photo Credit: Anissa Thompson

A single mother in Cranston, Rhode Island put pressure on the American Civil Liberties Union to stop all father-daughter and mother-son dances because she said it’s unfair to her daughter, who cannot participate. After the complaint, the ACLU filed a complaint for the mom, and a school attorney chimed in saying the Rhode Island gender discrimination law also made gender-specific activities illegal.

There are many single-parent households that may consist of the same gender, and sure, they may be left out on these events. However, there are also single-parent households made up of fathers and daughters or mothers and sons. These events are a bonding opportunity and a chance to affirm the relationship. Now Rhode Island families cannot participate because of one mother feeling her child was left out.

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung spoke out on the issue, after city hall received a lot of complaints by phone and in person:

“I am utterly disappointed to have such a time-honored tradition under attack. I implore the Cranston School Committee to review this decision and find a way to make this work for the children and their parents. I encourage all parents that are upset with this decision to contact their school committee members and make their voices be heard.”

The ACLU responded to the uproar in a somewhat irritated manner:

“The controversy that has suddenly arisen in a political campaign over father-daughter dances in Cranston is old news — the matter was amicably resolved with school officials over four months ago. And it was resolved for a simple reason: the school district recognized that in the 21st Century, public schools have no business fostering the notion that girls prefer to go to formal dances while boys prefer baseball games.

This type of gender stereotyping only perpetuates outdated notions of ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ activities and is contrary to federal law.

[Parent-teacher organizations] remain free to hold family dances and other events, but the time has long since passed for public school resources to encourage stereotyping from the days of Ozzie and Harriet. Not every girl today is interested in growing up to be  Cinderella  — not even in Cranston. In fact, one of them might make a great major league baseball player someday.

We commend the school district for its resolution of the matter, and are sorry to see some people turning it into a political football — a game that they may think only boys should be interested in.”

BMWK – Do you think this is fair or do you think this mom took this a little too far?

About the author

Briana Ford wrote 139 articles on this blog.

Briana is a writer, influencer, and shero living in Carson, CA. She's a freelance writer in between her day job in website support and her pursuit of a degree in Instructional Design. She shares words of wisdom, curiosity, and experience on her self-titled blog, Briana Ford.

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22 WordPress comments on “Father-Daughter Dances Are Being Banned by School Districts

  1. A. Raven

    This is absolutely ridiculous and frivolous! I don’t know which party is crazier, the mother, ACLU, or the people who actually voted for this mess. I’m sick of catering to people and their feelings of being left out. And now because ONE mother feels her children are being excluded from this hundreds of other children have to suffer. Why not ban muffins with moms, or donuts with dad’s, or even grandparents day? There are children who can’t participate in those activities either. And since we we’re banning things just to banning things How about weddings, so single people won’t feel left out. Or stop selling smaller size clothes so the big people won’t feel left out. I could go on and on with this ridiculousness, shame on the mother, the ACLU, and the state of Rhode Island.

    Reply
  2. tia stringer

    Really why should others have to suffer because the mate she chose to have a baby with decides for selfish reasons not to be in his childs life. So if this is the case then we should also ban muffins for moms and donuts for dads because not every child will have a mother or father are around to participate. So really is this the message you want to send to the parents who are doing the right thing. Or have a dance that also caters too single moms.

    Reply
  3. Tiff

    I agree with Stringer & Raven. Sometimes there are things that we can not participate in. If a girl is on the football team in high school doesn’t mean she should changed in the boys locker room to avoid discrimination.

    The woman could have asked an influential male to escort her daughter to the dance. My little sisters father passed when she was a baby. There was a father daughter luncheon at our church. She asked my husband, her brother in law to take her. Enough said. I don’t see the harm in this old tradition. I think this is an opportunity for fathers (or men that are important in the girls life) to connect and have a memory to go back to.

    Reply
  4. Shaundra

    I absolutely agree with everyone’s comments before mine. It leads me to say all extra curricular activities in public schools should be banned because some child that wants to particiape will be unable to because of gender, location, a disability, no ability to play a certain sport, or simply because they don’t have the grades or are on punishment. What kind of lesson does this teach our children and how they should function in life… If I can’t do it, no one else can either? If we all had that mentality, where would we be. I am sorry the child does not have a father for whatever reason but I guaranty there will be activites she does that others will not just as her mother would allow her to participate in certain activities that she wouldn’t allow a younger sibling to participate in because of age. Its called life.

    Reply
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  6. Lita

    I never thought that I would ever see the day where something so customary would become banned by a school district. There is something special about the bond between a father and daughter as well as a mother and son. These dances not only foster a close bond between parent and child, but it also goes into the archives of fond memories of ones childhood. Theses dances are one out of the gazillion positive things that we do with our kids, so that in turn when they have their children, they will want to do the same with them. Yes, this mom took it too far. She didnt have to go as far as getting the dance banned altogether. She simply could have joined the committee in charge of planning the dance. She could have provided input that would have made single parents included in the function. It isn’t fair for anyone to be told that they can no longer do something, on the account of one – who FELT it was discrimination. Doesn’t that seem to be an injustice on the fathers’/daughters’ and mothers’/sons’ civil liberties – the freedom of assembly, and the freedom of expression?! I wondered if the members of the ACLU missed out on their father/daughter or mother/son dance with such bitterness resounding in their statement. So basically the message that reverberates from this whole situation is, “I’m a single mom with a daughter and if I can’t take her to a father daughter dance – then no one should be able to either! Not even an uncle, her grandfather, her step-dad or any other positive father figure that is part of my daughter’s life.” This mother from Cranston should even take it several notches further and ban songs like “Dance with my Father Again” by Luther Vandross or “Unforgettable” duet by Natalie and Nat King Cole? Such songs should be banned because these are also indicative of gender discrimination – right? If such dances are forms of gender discrimination, then what will happen at the wedding receptions when the fathers and daughters dance? I know that I’ve taken it too far in this blog but – have I? The same way that she has? BTW – I am a single mother raising a daughter who CAN go to her father – daughter dance when the time comes if she so chooses to. Why? Because if she is anything like me, she wouldnt want to miss out on experiencing any special moments.

    Reply
  7. Ms. Char

    When father daughter dances occurred…..single parents were always welcome to invite an older brother, uncle, granddad or other dads would take those girls who had an absentee dad….or absentee mom if it was a male whose mom wasn’t around…..there is more than one way to skin a cat….you just have to think outside of the box whereas no one is left out or to feel embarrassed about a situation that they(the child) had no control over. If we take to banning every thing that some children may not be able to participate in we will have a whole lot of “idle, no function going to” children!

    Reply
  8. Rachel

    As a single mother myself I think this decision is wrong on so many levels. I have a daughter and two sons. I look forward to events like this. One year my daughter’s father couldn’t attend the Father/Daughter dance and I couldn’t find anyone to stand in so guess what, I put on my big girl pants and took my daughter myself. Did I think people would mock me? Yes. Did I care? No. Because I decided long ago that my past was not going to hinder my future or my child’s future. In my perfect world, every household would have a mother and father but we don’t live in a perfect world and families are made up differently. I guess since her daughter can’t participate in gender based sports in the school district those should be cancelled too? You get no pity party here. Establish a healthy relationship with your daughter’s father and include him in her life. Don’t exclude him and then complain about it and expect sympathy.

    Reply
  9. Camille

    I think this is a much needed change. It’s an outdated idea that discriminates against a lot of families. It also puts a lot of emotional stress of the children, if they don’t have the designated sex parent to accompany them to the dance. How about children who live in foster homes? Or children of same sexed parents? The bottom line is children and their parents should not be stressed out by discriminatory school events because their family doesn’t fit into the neat, little status quo box. I applaud this mom for standing up and taking action for her family and the many families who have suffered from this type of disregard.

    Reply
    1. Lee

      come on Camille this is ridiculous. Everywhere in life you go there will be something that you get left out of. So because I cannot sing should there be no school choir. We need to stop coddling children and teach them to be resilient in circumstances like this. My dad was never in my life and when I was a debututante my uncle escorted me. If this mother had ensured that despite lacking a father that her daughter had a male support in her life she wouldn’t need to feel left out. Poor little girl is gonna be told she cant have a wedding cause she has no daddy to give her away. Oh so since she doesn’t why not ban father’s giving daughters away too why don’t we. Sucking my teeth!!!

      Reply
    2. Keeley @ My Life on a Plate

      I actually agree with you, Camille. I had never even heard of these dances until recently (I guess they weren’t common in my community). I don’t know if they should be “banned” per-se, but I do think the idea is outdated (and a bit strange). Just my opinion. It reminds me of those dances where daughters receive a promise ring from their fathers and they pledge to save their virginity for marriage… that didn’t sit well with me, either.

      Reply
  10. Camille

    Also it doesn’t mean we don’t encourage fatherhood bonding. It just needs to be inclusive, because the sad reality is so many children don’t have both parents available to them.

    Reply
    1. Lee

      yes that is exactly why it is called reality…. cause everyone’s reality is different. You win some you lose some get over it!!

      Reply
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  12. Daniel

    This is sad on so many levels. The loss due to the breakdown of families, loss to children, followed by the loss to society in general. Just another instance of bitter people having an organization of even more petty bitter people to sue for them. Sad that Rachel would have to even think about being ridiculed for being a good and caring parent. A parent that cares that much deserves respect. Sad that we have people like Camille who believe the scales can be evened by punishing people (children) who have something she feels denied of. She is the scary part of the joke “can an orphan eat at a family restaurant?” Of course! Can a girl who’s father is not there go to a father daughter dance? Again, Of course! But how do we convince a putz like Camille that we grow by giving, not by taking or denying? This is a sad window into the soul of today’s society. If we cannot fix the perceptions of those with these twisted perverted views, society as we know it is doomed. The Lord helps those who help themselves. Things are not always fair or equal. And they are not meant to be. We just do the best we can with what we have and show our children the wondrous possibilities in this great world. Give! Don’t take. And respect those who do. Don’t punish the world for your bad decisions as a parent. I just took my daughter trick or treating without her worthless mother because she had a party to go to. Maybe I can get the ACLU to help ban Halloween since my daughter had to endure the trauma of seeing other girls out with their moms and she had to go with dear old dad.

    Reply
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