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This type of gender stereotyping only perpetuates outdated notions of ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ activities and is contrary to federal law.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