A Rhode Island school district has put an end to all father-daughter, mother-son events after a parent filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In the complaint, the parent siad that the events made her daughter feel left out because she does not have a father figure in her life.
The ACLU claims that the issue was one of gender discrimination, as there were dances for fathers and daughters, and baseball games for mothers and sons. Rhode Island’s law against gender discrimination was cited in the lawsuit. In a statement, the ACLU said, “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 This type of gender stereotyping only perpetuates outdated notions of ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ activities and is contrary to federal law.” The superintendent of the Cranston school district agreed, saying, “Under no circumstances should we be isolating any child from full participation in school activities and events based on gender. Please be all-inclusive in scheduling your events.”
Cranston’s Mayor, Allan Fung, disagrees with the decision, 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 policy change was made four months ago, but has started to get attention after a state Senate candidate announced on Monday that he would reverse the decision if elected.