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Should We Ban Father-Daughter Dance Because of Gender Discrimination?

Photo: George Wilhelm/LA Times

The Father-Daughter dance and Mother-Son ballgames are long-standing school traditions in America, but those two events have come to an abrupt end in the public schools in Cranston, Rhode Island, because of threat of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union:

The ACLU, the self-proclaimed guardian of the nation's liberty, says such events violate the state's gender-discrimination law. The organization challenged their existence following a complaint from a single mom who said her daughter was prevented from attending a father-daughter dance in the Cranston Public Schools district.

Needless to say, the issue has created an uproar of controversy when it came to widespread public attention recently.

For its part, the ACLU scoffed at the uproar, calling the change "old news" and defending its legal position in a statement laced with a touch of snark. Here it is, in part:

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"This type of gender stereotyping only perpetuates outdated notions of 'girl' and 'boy' activities and is contrary to federal law.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

Rene Lynch of the Los Angeles Times has the story: Link

Should we ban Father-Daughter Dances because of Gender Discrimination?

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My grade school had the rule that for Grade 8 grad, all girls had to dance the first dance with their father. In my case, that wasn't a possibility, so I was told that if I wanted to attend the dance at all, I had to dance with my homeroom teacher.

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Hey guys, maybe consider the case of the people who this affects: the girl who doesn't have a father to bring to the dance, and wishes to bring her mother instead. Or the boy who would rather go to the dance than play baseball. Or the girl who wants to play baseball with her mom or dad.

The problem is that the status quo excludes those kids. No one is trying to ban dances or baseball games, they're simply trying to ban making them exclusive. You might benefit from asking yourself why you support such an exclusive environment for kids.
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I'm disturbed that anyone would think a father-daughter dance is creepy or weird. There is a special bond between dads and daughters and the idea of a dance at that age is a wonderful thing. Just what is creepy or weird about it?
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Shouldn't it be the public who decides how their public funds are spent? If most of the community seems to be fine with a dance, why is it being shut down?

This all-or-nothing approach is uglier than the alleged problem. If people want more dances, by all means have more dances. Mom and daughter dances, son and dad dances, baseball for everyone. But why shut something down? Something that people like? Because someone feels left out? Christ, just have another dance. Dances are fun.
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