After a single mother complained to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that she was unable to attend the father-daughter dance, the town of Cranston, Rhode Island has ruled that the dances must be discontinued.
The Daily Mail is reporting that parents are fuming over a decision by Cranston School Superintendent Judith Lundsten to discontinue the dances after a mother complained about feeling left out of the dance because her child’s father would not attend.
The woman complained to the school where officials tried to accommodate her but none of the options they offered were satisfactory. It was then that the mother decided to contact the ACLU who discovered that while federal gender discrimination laws exempt these kinds of parent-child affairs, Rhode Island law does not.
Therefore, the dances were deemed to be in violation of state law and were cancelled.
Steven Brown of the Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU told the WPRO Morning News: “This is 2012 and they [public schools] should not be in the business of fostering blatant gender stereotypes. . . . In 2012 not every girl necessarily wants to grow up and be Cinderella. Some might actually like to go out on the baseball field and a public school of all places should not be suggesting otherwise.”
Parents such as Lea Corona are appalled by the decision. “It’s absolutely ridiculous,” she wrote on the Cranston Patch Facebook page. “Another tradition taken away due to one loudmouth who just had to ruin it for everyone.”
Cristina Wilkinson Trainer, whose husband is fighting cancer but was still hoping to make it their youngest daughter’s dance, concurred: “I think it is sad,” she said. “It is a lovely tradition.”
Deanna Oster, another local mother wrote: “I am so disgusted by the city of Cranston and the school department. I think it is ridiculous that Cranston is once again getting rid of something for the few and punishing the many that enjoy this tradition. Some of the best memories I have with my dad are at these dances.”
Supporters of the new policy say the dances might be a lovely tradition, but they’re against the law.
“I’ve heard from both sides and I understand people view this as a tradition. It’s a thing my kids went to,” said Cranston School Committee member Janice Ruggieri to the Cranston Patch. “But it’s also the state law.”
Dr Lundsten sent a letter to parents explaining the new policy. “I acknowledge that many of these events have long traditions and for many parents, these types of gender-based events are not an issue, however, this is a public school system and under no circumstances should we be isolating any student from full participation in school activities and events based on gender. Please be all inclusive when planning your events.”
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