September 19th, 2012
04:17 PM ET

School district bans father-daughter, mother-son events

By Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) - The Cranston, Rhode Island, school district banned father-daughter dances and other similar parent-child events after a parent complained to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The parent said her daughter felt left out of a father-daughter dance because she does not have a father or a father figure in her life.

Cranston's superintendent responded by banning parent-child activities, including father-daughter and mother-son events.

Superintendent Judith Lundsten said, “I truly believe that no one intended to hurt anyone’s feelings with this, that they wanted to be inclusive, but they also liked these traditional-type activities.”

In an interview with CNN affiliate WPRI , Lundsten acknowledged that finding that balance might be “tricky.”

The ACLU released a statement which noted that the matter has been “amicably resolved with school officials over four months ago.”  The organization stated that “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 This type of gender stereotyping only perpetuates outdated notions of ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ activities and is contrary to federal law.”

In a letter to partner organizations, the Cranston superintendent said, “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.”

Reactions to the ban have been mixed.

Where do you stand on father-daughter and mother-son events? Do you think schools promote gender stereotyping through activities? Share your perspective in the comments section.

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Filed under: Extracurricular • Policy • Politics • video
soundoff (499 Responses)
  1. Dallas

    These schools are run by "parents tax dollars". And the people making these erroneous decisions can be voted out or just plain fired. If enough parents revolt at the school these communist minded idiots will resign or back down.

    September 25, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  2. spud4938u

    That little girl is going to be real popular in school, now. Thanks to Mom...

    September 24, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  3. Shandoa Goldizen

    i think that all should be included dont ban it let them bring a brother or sister

    September 24, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  4. barbara

    When I went to public school in the 50's and 60's there was no such thing as a father/daughter dance, or mother/son event.... ever!!! We all surivived just fine. I'm sure the school can up with more inclusive activities. On another note, I feel I got a better education back then than what the kids get now. We learned the basics first. And we learned math without calculators, etc. including alegbra, geometry, trig and calculus.

    September 24, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  5. Jorge

    As goes the school system, so goes the future of a country. After so many years of attending cretinous PTA meetings, watching teachers gossip with each other in the halls instead of being at their workstations, watching fools with diploma-factory degrees reinvent the wheel so many times for school districts, watching elected board members dozing off during meetings and so many students drop out before they even finish high school, I no longer wonder or discuss why this country is going to hell in a hand basket.

    September 24, 2012 at 8:14 am |
  6. betty

    Really!!! This is how prayer got taken out of schools. One person did it and the system bowed down. Only in America!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 23, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  7. Squafdonoboles

    After reading about this, I will no longer donate to the ACLU.

    September 22, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  8. alex

    Why don't they just make it a parent daughter/parent son dance instead of ruining 99 percent of the people's good time? This way everyone's happy.

    September 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • SoArizona

      A FAMILY DANCE would cover ANY situation.

      September 22, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  9. luke

    Stop giving them ideas... Lol

    September 22, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  10. Jacqui

    I am all for any event that allows "parent-student' bonding. I don't see the need to be gender specific.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  11. kyphi

    I wish my school district did away with them. It was always lunch with Dad held during regular lunch times for most men, and Muffins with Mom which took place at 9:30 in the morning, meaning working moms rarely could attend.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • lyle

      Sadistic b***h

      September 25, 2012 at 5:26 am |
  12. lovemykids

    This situation seems to be an "attack" (for lack of a better word) on fatherhood. I feel like this mother is harboring some anger towards the roles of fathers and "traditional" families. I believe this type of thinking is becoming more pervasive in our culture. I think it's wonderful that there are all types of families in our country – there isn't one right way to raise a child. It's all very personal and shouldn't be judged. But with that said, I also think that there needs to acceptance that a lot of families choose to raise their children with a mother and a father and there is nothing wrong with that. I think it's a wonderful thing that a father wants to spend time with his daughter at a dance – this should be celebrated and encouraged, not seen as a negative, non-inclusive event. It's just sad.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Squafdonoboles

      This "mother" sounds more like a dictator.

      September 22, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • chas

      thank you

      September 25, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  13. apophy

    I remember being excited about the father-daughter events because my dad traveled quite frequently for his job, and I wasn't able to spend much time with him when I was younger. We always did "Take Your Daughter To Work Day", and my sister and I had the opportunity to get to know him better. Yes, it was only a day, but it was so much fun. I can understand being sympathetic to those who can't participate, but I think these kinds of events are very important to those parent-child relationships. I fear these kinds of situations set a dangerous precedent, a wheel rolling quickly down a hill. What's the next thing a superintendent will ban?

    September 21, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Jaime

      If only parents could spend this kind of time with their kids without it being a school event...

      September 21, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  14. MrModestNC

    This is another example of punishing the 99% to cater to the 1%... It's the same reason Christmas trees are no longer allowed in some schools, because 2 or 3 atheist parents object.. It's the same reason governments are required to spend millions of dollars to publish all their official publications in 2 or 3 different languages because a small percentage of foreign-born citizens (and, to a larger degree, illegals) refuse to learn the official language of the country they choose to come to..citing their right to "maintain their heritage" – ok fine, maintain it in your home; but you are living in an english-speaking country, learn the language!

    Anyway, I digress... whatever happened to majority rules in schools? If parents and students want to have a dance, a tree, a pledge, heck even a prayer... Take a vote... it's what this country and democracy was built on.

    September 21, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Jaime

      And if they want to have those things so badly, they could organize it themselves.

      September 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Sick of It All

      I agree. This is another pathetic display of how everyone else has to pay because one or a few people are unhappy or displeased. Too bad, spend the same effort you did into getting it banned into keeping a man and problem solved lady. This is why we have "everybody gets a trophy" sports now...disgusting.

      September 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
      • Coley

        Agree

        September 23, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • SJS

      "This is another example of punishing the 99% to cater to the 1%..." That's a joke right? You need to look up some statistics on fathers.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Fro

      Your right... we have become weaker and adhering to burt feelings reports and complaints. I didn't always have mom and dad around but i attended events just the same and had fun withmy friends parents. Kids today are too anti-social so soon dances will ne taken away because no one knows how to have a good time with cocomplaining. The only thing we got upset about at school dances was the music and not being able to dance certain ways.

      October 1, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  15. K

    Oh please. I grew up without a father so I never attended a father-daughter anything my whole life and my mother certainly never went to any school event with me in her life. I got over it. As an adult, I don't even remember those petty childhood events until I read that article. Instead of feeling all sad for myself and having a pity-party, I look at that mother and child in the article and think that child is not going to deal real well with life and it's usual disappointments and frustrations.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  16. CBC

    A perfect example of extreme overprotectiveness. This mother had a chance to help her child build some personal character and instead turned the situation into a training session on bullying. My dad died when I was quite young and I remember in middle school missing the father-daughter dance. Did I feel bad? Yes. I recall feeling that I missed out on that particular dance. Did it scar me for life? No. Life is not all roses and candy. This mother was completely unreasonable and it sounds like the school group tried every way possible to include her child. But, no...she goes to the ACLU over this? Gender stereotyping? Really? I think not. And by those actions she ruined a traditional event for the majority of students. You have to pick your battles wisely and this mother certainly did not. I wonder how she's doing after the fact.. Oh, and what a spineless school superintendent...or perhaps the legal fees would have proved too high.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  17. Maggiemae

    I don't think gender stereotyping is a problem. The real problem is that so many children are lacking a father/morher in the household and feel left out of these events.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
  18. Mark

    That is a typcial school administrator mentality – Ban this, ban that; becuse it not politically correct. How about puting some thought into a solution and call it simply a child-parent(or guardian for those who are in foster care). That way it would be an all inclusive event and drop the unnecessary ban.

    The brings me to another issue, the colors or numbers you wear because some gang assiated. When we get to the point of chiseling away at our freedoms in the name of security. The gangs are winning! I say trackdown and montior every gang member and be ready to nab them the moment they break the law. We can use various tools such as neighborhood watches, yard monitors, CCTV and to pick up a phone and report any illegal activites to the police when they happen. Be the eyes and ears of your local law enforcement. That is how you get rid of gangs in your town!

    September 20, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • eric

      thank god someone else realizes the school system has no balls the ban stuff all the time i mean it worked before why isn't it working now i am only 12 and i already realize this god the government is acting like stuff that already is working isn't working if it ain't broke don't fix it

      September 20, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • G. Gentry

      I can understand both sides. I remember my granddaughter going to a daughter-daddy dance. I also attended many "Grandparents Days", and remember seeing MANY children who felt quite bad because they had NO grandparents there to see their accomplishments, and remember thinking "maybe this isn't such a good idea, if so many children are sad. "

      September 20, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
      • Elen

        My first reaction to this was what a shame that a father-daughter dance couldn't just go on, because it seems like a realy nice thing. However, my dad died when I was a kid, and if there had been this kind of dance at my school, I would have had no one to go with, like when my brothers had no one to do the father-son soapbox derby thing in Scouts, and they felt bad to be left out. Sometimes a kind grownup can fill in for these kinds of events, but it is an awkward situation for those missing the parent-type called for by the event. I think the idea was to celebrate the relationship between the father and daughter, but it does exclude anyone who doesn't happen to have a dad on tap, whether from death, divorce, or any other reason – none of this is in control of the student. And it's not that great to be the one without and to be reminded of it, but I would have just not gone. There was a mother-son dance last year at my kid's school, but we didn't go because the music was going to lame.

        September 24, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Amanda Orsefski

      Love this comment and agree 100%

      September 21, 2012 at 3:33 am |
  19. bill

    What if she can't get a date to the prom? Will the ACLU sue to have that banned too? We are a nation of crybabies.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  20. jj777

    We are so concerned about being politically correct all the time that we have lost sight of common sense and enjoying family events in our schools. Now its catering to minorities will instead of the majority rules. How sensitive have we become when someone cries "foul or my feelings are hurt its not fair ",etc etc etc. Events like these should be treasured and enjoyed by all, true some can't but don't stop everyone else from doing so because it isn't fair!!! What kind of stupidity and lack of conviction do our leaders and parents have to fight for what is right. That's what gives the aclu power is the people do not want to ruffle anyone's feelings.No one wants to stand up anymore , we all have just become like sheep going through the motions. No wonder the world laughs at Americans and call us weak because we are. No will to fight for any cause except to be sensitive to others . What a joke

    September 20, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • lindsey

      Exactly! Not everything in this world can be political correct. We can't make everyone in the world happy. So what she couldn't go. Theres no need to get all sad about, there will be other things out there that are better.

      September 20, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Squafdonoboles

      "Politically Correct" is a license for people to display their own insecurities out into the open.

      September 22, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  21. rosethornne

    Next they'll ban lunches because some kids don't have any lunchables.

    From what I understand, an effort was made to change the event to a more inclusive non-specific event. Of course that wasn't good enough for the mom with her panties all in a bunch. Very stupid.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  22. Abrasive Angel

    America The Idiocracy, the world looks down on us and laughs.

    September 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  23. DJ

    What happens if a Ninth grader wants to go to prom and feels discriminated that it is for seniors?

    September 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  24. VJ

    I believe the school was ridiculous is doing what it did.

    What we have here, at least from reading some of the opinions above, are a lot of adults who push their feelings/likes/dislikes onto their children without letting them experience things for themselves.

    September 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  25. tigermomofthree

    I think the mom is making too much of this event. Children learn how to react to situations by their parent's reactions. What is wrong with just telling your child that "our family is different from some other families" and "you may feel uncomfortable about this dance, but let's make the best out of the situation". The mom can take the daughter herself, or just grab pizza and a move, take a girls trip, anything. I just don't understand this type of thinking – moving heaven and earth so a child isn't uncomfortable – that is life. It is messy, hurtful and unfair at times – it's all in how you deal with it. When my son's aren't invited to a birthday party that their friends were invited too, I explain to them that it happens sometimes, it can hurt a little, but let's go do something else fun – over and done with!!!

    September 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • coolcat

      How exhausting for this mother!!

      September 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Starrla

      So when/if she get married ! No dancing allow ! How dumb ! Because it will bring back the memory how she didn't have all whose daddy & daughter dances! How sad ! I didn't have my daddy either that didn't stop me!
      This mother has other issues !!!! More coming around the corner !

      September 21, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  26. Brenda W

    Remember, it only took ONE woman to remove prayer from our schools nationwide and look where we are now. Whatever happened to common sense and personal responsibility?

    September 20, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • wow

      Needs of the few outweight the needs of the many.

      We should all strive to be the lowest comon denominator. After all...if I cannot have it...neither should you.

      September 20, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  27. Jim

    We have come so far in our efforts to be completely and utterly correct that we have now crossed the border from sanity to insanity.

    September 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  28. Kelly

    Anyone outraged at the school's decision is not being realistic. The role of the school at its very core, is to give students and their families a learning environment and access to a peer group and a community – and that community should be equally sensitive and inclusive without providing the rationalization that life's not always fair and some people don't always get to feel included to a young child perhaps not even capable of processing the bigger picture yet, developmentally – It makes me feel left out when others celebrate mother's day, as my mother is deceased. But I'm 30 years old, so that counterargument is relevant with me – not with children feeling left out at school functions which are supposed to be for them.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Leslie

      Kelly,
      I am sorry for the loss of your mother, my granddaughter lost her mother just 1 1/2 years ago.
      This does not mean that there should not be father/daughter, mother/daughter, father/son, mother/son events in school.
      It is unfortunate that life happens this way, but these events do help the relationships between parents and children. I will never forget my father/daughter events. As a child I would probably have been sad at the thought of not going, but we cannot just eleminate the events for a few. Life happens

      September 20, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • BoddaGetta

      I lost my mother at the age of 20. There were often mother-daughter teas, events, and collegiate events that others could go to with their moms, but I could not. I'm not so selfish as to deny others fun with their families, just because I had the unfortunate event of loss happen sooner than I expected.

      Growing up, I had more than one male role-model for me in my life, even though I am lucky enough to have a great father. I'm sure if there was a father-daughter dance at grade school or some event, I would not feel left-out.

      September 20, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
  29. crabman

    the school dept has no balls and it showed -– now you know what kind of people are running things

    September 20, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  30. Wilbur

    Wow. What is rewarded? I rather doubt these activites were arranged to exclude. I am sure accomodations would be gladly and happily made for children who do not have a mother or father. There are many things others have that I too would like. As a parent there are many things my children see others have that they would like and I use it to teach of an opportunity. It was never 'unfair' that I had less or that I did not have and perhaps it was becasue I was always taught that if I wanted then it was up to me to design my life so that I could have. I was never taught to be a victim and always taught the future was mine to mold. What has been taught here and was it the best for all? Are we saying that if the world is not to your liking it must change for you – is that 'inclusive'. If things are not as someone wants them then we do away with it- we exclude all? I bet there was a way this could have been used in such a way to cause children who do not have a parent to feel a welcomed and important part of the community without taking away but adding to. Too bad. When education sops finding ways to teach and simply does away with to avoid the tougher questions, everyone loses and fairness was not for anyone.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • DB

      Kid, there is no "accommodation" that makes up for the fact that the school just reminded some 10-year-old girl that she doesn't have a father while all of her friends do. There is no "accommodation" that makes up for the humiliation she feels as her friends have fun participating in this event with their fathers and she doesn't. And since these events serve no real educational purpose, there is no reason to continue them just to prove a point to someone like you. Yeah, life is tough and sometimes unfair...but I see no reason for a school to do out of their way just to make sure some little kid learns that harsh lesson. She'll have plenty of time to learn it later.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
      • The Law

        Why is it that Cranston never feels they have to follow state laws. The city of Cranston should've always had an all inclusive dance however, don't until the ACLU gets involved. We should do the right thing to beginwith. I give credit to the woman who complained. She knew what was right, she had the law on her side and good for her. Never did she state to ban all dances, she just simply wanted to have a dance that all children can and are invited to attend. Something like a "student's choice Dance" If the students happen to be primarily female fine, if their adult companions happen to be primarily male, then fine but atleast they are given the same opportunity. Also, if these people don't like the way the law reads then do something to change it. jump on that banwagon not the one to negatively stereotype the parent who wanted an all inclusive dance. Ughhhhh

        September 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
      • eric

        the school isn't trying to exclude her life happens but that doesn't mean just because of 1 out of lets say 350 they will acomadate for the one to basically forget about all others

        September 20, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  31. crabman

    can everyone hear that--–its the sound of this country going down the toilet-–every one enjoy

    September 20, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  32. Just Wanted To Complain

    this article fails to mention that the dance was never called a father/daughter dance but ME AND MY GUY and that when the mother complained to the school committee about her problem not only did they invite her to the dance but they also changed the name to BRING THE ADULT OF YOUR CHOICE. This mom wasn't going to be happy no matter what they did to try and accommodate her and make her daughter feel included. Fact is her daughter did end up going to the dance with a guy after all so then why the big fuss? After all the school committee did she still deceided that wasn't enough and went to the ACLU. It is sad that the school district had to change their policy, but im glad they did. Don't give her a chance to sue for discrimination, don't give her any legs to stand on at all. Once you read the article on the cranston, ri newspaper website its all but clear that she was hoping they would put up a fight so she could sue and get money. Shame on her for ruining everyone else's fun because of her situation. Im a single mom of a 8 month old and i would never dream of doing something like this. Its called being raised with values and understanding that because of the situation i am now in doesn't mean i should punish everyone else for it. I hope they can get that law changed so the events can continue and she has no laws backing her stupid crusade.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Wilbur

      And so what was accomplished? The individual will someday go away becasue it cannot be sustained. The pendulum will swing and someday such individuals will be shunned and excluded because the larger community will be better for such a shunning. We live in a curious time in which we claim to teach our children to serve the community but then we show them it is the whim of the individual which we cow tow to. It should be known principals and superintendants are perhaps the weakest of individuals and seek complacency. Every parent knows the loud parent controls the school yard and sets the rules for the compliant parents. If this is not how parents want it, those running the schools can be run out and new people placed in them. The community either accepts or rejects. This too is up to the community.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  33. Jamie

    After the initial complaint that the father-daughter dance was gender discrimination, the school created a mother-son baseball game. Someone missed the point. They could have just initiated a parent-child dance and a parent-child baseball game....but evidently it was just easier to cancel both rather than entertain the notion that maybe some boys like to dance or some girls like to play baseball.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  34. Torrence

    I agree. Schools should not be in the business of social engineering nor should they be in the business of being fairness police. Open the doors, teach subject matter in classes open to all, shut your doors. Get rid of ALL extracurricular activites- sports, music, school plays, all social events, etc. and get back to teaching subject matter. There are other places and venues for these things. Why go through this rediculous stuff?

    September 20, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • lindsey

      Sports, music and all that other stuff give us a foundation on what we might want to do in the future. We could continue our sports and plays later on in life. School shouldn't be only about facts. Plus if you are involved in sports or music you get scholar ships. But dances are another thing. There a waste of money and all your really doing is paying the school to be a few hours out of your house.

      September 20, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
  35. msvigilante

    Good. It was exclusive not inclusive, which in our world today we need to operate on inclusivity. I was raised by a single dad, so mothers day crafts were tough but you get over that sort of thing. But imagine my school hadn't allowed me to participate in making the crafts at all. That is essentially what a father daughter dance is, those without get left out. Why not a kid and grown up dance? Then everyone can participate. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • fyi

      the event was never really exclusive if you go online and read some other articles. I don't think a dance that is called me and my guy, not father/daughter dance is exclusive and the fact that they changed the name to bring the adult of your choice to make it more clear that anyone was welcome was not enough for the mom in question makes it seem like she just wanted everyone else to be as miserable as she is. how much more inclusive can someone be. The mom was invited, her daughter did in fact go to the dance with a guy. She saw an opportunity to complain and no matter what was done to change the event to her liking she was never going to be happy. The ACLU has better things to look at im sure than dealing with a petty woman and her petty issues.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:26 am |
      • DB

        Oh, they allowed girls to bring "the parent of their choice?" Well that just makes up for everything, does it? While all the other girls are dancing with their daddies, she'll get to dance with her mother. Lovely. And I'm sure that won't end up being just as humiliating for her, it certainly won't still serve as a reminder that she's the only girl in the class that doesn't have a father in her life.

        For crying out loud, will you LISTEN TO YOURSELF?

        I don't understand why the aclu got involved with this one, since I don't see it as a civil rights issue. But y'know what? I don't care why they got involved. Changing this policy was still the right thing to do, these events serve no educational purpose and they ABSOLUTELY end up needlessly excluding and shaming certain students for no good reason, even if you want to delude yourself into believing that they don't.

        September 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
      • BoddaGetta

        DB

        There is a student from school further up in the thread, plus links to many more articles that stated this was not called a father-daughter dance to begin with. It was called Me and My Guy.

        Are proms exclusive to girls/guys that cannot get a date? Often schools provide ticket discounts to couples. According to your reasoning, proms should not allow dates because singles might feel left out. Also, what about when this child enters the real world and finds out that everything isn't fair in adulthood? It will be a shocking slap to the face to a sheltered individual that gets whatever she wants.

        September 20, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
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