Gender-Based Events Get the Cut

By Danielle Ertle
SC Staff Writer

The small step of a little girl wearing Mary Jane’s and ribbons in her hair, with smudges on her cheeks warms the heart of a father.

This relationship between a father and daughter is very special. What other way to share that relationship with others than an annual father and daughter dance held at local schools? Unfortunately, this is no longer the case for a school district in Cranston, Rhode Island.

According to Yahoo! Shine, a single mother filed a complaint to the Rhode Island branch of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last May when her daughter felt left out of the annual tradition that is run by a parent-teacher organization at the school. The girl was upset because she didn’t have a father to bring to the dance.

Unfortunately, the ACLU wasn’t on her side as the executive director, Steve Brown, said to talk-radio station WPRO-FM, “I think when schools tell girls ‘You love dances’ and boys ‘You love baseball games,’ I think that is going too far.”

To him, he thinks public schools have no “business of really encouraging such blatant stereotypes about what girls like and what boys like.”
After the mother’s complaint to the ACLU and Brown’s statement on the radio, the gender discrimination board of Rhode Island has banned father and daughter dances in Cranston.

The banning of events like this one, and even events that are organized by groups outside of school, have to be taken away because they are gender specific events.

A federal law by the name of Title IX is against sexual discrimination in schools and gives exceptions for gender-specific parent-child events.

Rhode Island’s laws obviously don’t follow the statement for Title IX, causing the loss of these events. Unfortunately, many parents love the events for fathers and daughters or mothers and sons.

They don’t consider them to be part of gender roles, but think of them as tradition and family bonding, which the world needs more of these days.

This unfairness of banning such events did not miss the ears of a Republican candidate for State Senate in Rhode Island who was quoted saying that the ban is “an assault on traditional family values.”

The ban of these father and daughter dances and other parent and child events was resolved this past August. However, parents still worry that since this problem occurred in Cranston, it will happen in other school districts throughout Rhode Island. This certainly should be addressed.

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