Lifestyle & Belief

Rhode Island schools superintendent rules out father-daughter dances


Dates Coty Shouse (C) and Destiny Duff (R) gather as Destiny's father Ronnie Duff (L) passes a baby to be photographed while preparing for the Owsley County High School prom on April 21, 2012 in Booneville, Kentucky.


Mario Tama

A Rhode Island schools superintendent has moved to ban gender-specific events in accordance with state law by ending the district’s father-daughter dances and mother-son ballgames.

According to the Associated Press, the move has prompted parents to complain of political correctness gone awry.

The AP cited ACLU Executive Director Steven Brown as saying the initial complaint in May came from the the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a single mom whose daughter had no father in her life but was precluded from attending the father-daughter dance.

Schools Superintendent Judith Lundsten said that while federal gender discrimination laws exempted such events, Rhode Island law did not.

She wrote: 

"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 child from full participation in school activities and events based on gender. Please be all-inclusive when planning your events."

The ban created a furor in Cranston, a community located south of Providence.

McClatchy News Service quoted Cranston Mayor Allan Fung as saying:

"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 Providence Journal cited Sean Gately, a candidate for state Senate, as saying he would seek to change the policy if elected.

However, ACLU Executive Director Steven Brown told the AP that gender-specific events were not appropriate and noted that the Cranston events played to gender stereotypes.

"Not every girl today is interested in growing up to be Cinderella — not even in Cranston," Brown said in a statement.

"In fact, one of them might make a great major league baseball player someday."