TELL US: Should Father-Daughter Dances Be Banned?

State law in Rhode Island bans Father-Daughter dances, such as the ones held at schools and community center in many towns. Let us know if you agree with the ban or not.

Father-daughter dances are a tradition at many schools, community centers and social halls in towns all across Massachusetts.

But down in Cranston, R.I., school officials there say they have banned Father-Daughter dances after a complaint from one mother, according to various reports on Cranston Patch.

The ban was part of a wider ban put in place this fall by Cranston school Superintendent Judith Lundsten, according to Cranston Patch reporting. The move came after Lundsten received a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union complaining that a single mother had not been allowed to attend a Father-Daughter dance with her daughter.

Apparently the federal Title IX legislation that bans gender description actually has an exemption for activities such as Father-Daughter dances. But Rhode Island law does not honor that exemption, Cranston Patch reported.

Does the ACLU have a point? Should Father-Daughter dances be banned? Should single mothers be allowed to attend with their daughter?

Let us know in the comments.

MikeA September 21, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Getting back to the private school vs government school point. Private schools need to please their "customers". If you don't like some aspect of the school, you talk to the principal or the guidance counselor or whoever. If you're still not satisfied, you're take your business elsewhere. Just like restaurant customers - you are free to return or not depending on how the restaurant serves your particular needs. In the government schools, you aren't always the customer - sometimes your a prisoner. You have no choices. You are not free to choose. I'm remember the two people in Andover who ate every dinner at Friendly's and bemoaned its closing - an unlikely choice in my view but they obviously loved going there. Imagine if the government decided to give everyone free meals and then decided to run restaurants (i.e. just like it does with education). We'd have one size fits all restaurants (let's call them public cafeterias). If you didn't like the public cafeterias, you could go to a more expensive private restaurant or live with the cafeteria food. (I can imagine someone suing the public cafeteria for the lack of healthy dessert options or for serving meat on Friday in Lent). I think most of us would be worse off in such a situation including those that like the downtown Andover Friendly's.
Wyatt Worm September 21, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Whereas you make a fun, compelling argument against the federal government running Friendly's, the analogy to the matter at hand seems inapt. In a public school, you are neither customer nor prisoner, you are a citizen with the associated entitlement to public education, and the responsibility either publicly or privately pursued, to pursue that education to the point of becoming a responsible citizen. You are absolutely free to choose not to go to a public school. Imagine if the government decided to give everyone an education! Wait -- they did already: "The objects of this primary eduction determine its character and limits... To instruct the mass of our citizens in these, their rights, interests and duties, as men and citizens, being then the objects of education in the primary schools, whether privet or public, in them should be taught reading, writing and numerical arithmetic, the elements of mensuration...and the outlines of geography and history." - Thomas Jefferson
Glad_Dad September 21, 2012 at 04:05 PM
On the bright side, it saves the daughters all the embarrassment of seeing their fathers dance in public.
gene September 21, 2012 at 04:20 PM
The ACLU is more relevant now than ever. With the Patriot Act and other encroachments on our civil liberties we need them to be looking out for us. I don't always agree with them but I am glad they are there.
MikeA September 21, 2012 at 04:23 PM
According to Jefferson, we wouldn't have the dance or the basketball team.
John Devlin September 21, 2012 at 04:46 PM
"It was the school department who cancelled the dances rather than comply with federal law." No. The federal law specifically approves of Father-Daughter dances in publically-funded school systems. The ACLU's suit against the city of Cranston was antithetical to the letter of the law, but they won their point regardless because of the mere threat of a lawsuit. I do not know the reason why Cranston gave up before the fight began, but knowing what little I do about that city I find it very easy to believe they cannot afford to defend against any legal action, much less a trivial case that has no bearing on the educational charter of the school system.
John Devlin September 21, 2012 at 04:53 PM
And how many girls are on the Cranston High School varsity football squad? Have any ever tried out for the team? Does the school have a varsity football program for girls?
Melissa Schools September 21, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Wyatt: By "other sorry circumstances," I meant whatever circumstances I don't know about that would make her the kind of person who needs to make a stink about a father-daughter dance. Should the parents without daughters complain, too? We could come up with a list of all different kinds of family configurations and give each one their own dance, but then, that would be pretty lame, wouldn't it?
Mark Chulsky September 21, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Thank you, Amy, for your comment. The most thoughtful in this batch.
Wyatt Worm September 21, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Mike - I agree that Jefferson was more interested in public schools for education of the citizenry vs public schools for sports/social events.
Cool Fusion September 21, 2012 at 08:59 PM
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Wyatt Worm September 21, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Melissa- Point taken on the sorry circumstance piece. I get where you are coming from better now, but I guess to me, its pretty obvious what the circumstances are. She feels discriminated against based on gender. I am not sure anyone would feel differently in the abstract even if they cannot identify with the particular circumstances in this instance. The parents without daughters could complain, but I am not sure it would be much of a case. To what end? You could try the high energy low output strategy of designing different dances that segregate along family circumstances and gender, or you could try the much more low energy high output solution of letting this woman come to the dance with her daughter! I don't see much of a slippery slope argument here.
Wyatt Worm September 21, 2012 at 09:59 PM
John Devlin - Was just told anecdotally that the board blew their lawsuit budget losing a fight to keep a christian banner up in the school and had nothing left for this one. Interesting if true.
Melissa Schools September 21, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Well, Wyatt, I did say and do agree that they should have just let her go- but that still doesn't entitle her to bellyache about it. I'd agree more with the discrimination argument if this were 20 or even 10 years ago, but single parents are hardly a rare species these days. The article didn't say that a disenfranchised _group_ of single mothers protested and were brushed off. We're talking about one mom who felt left out. As for the "Christian banner," I, too, would like to know the circumstances, but I'll wager that it was a case of another individual who set out to change circumstances to his/her liking. Maybe the banner was something Christmasy that dared allude to Jesus rather than Santa or presents or snowmen. Quelle horreur!
Melissa Schools September 21, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Okay, I was wrong about the banner topic. Here's a link: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/fed-judge-sides-with-teen-atheist-orders-public-school-to-remove-prayer-mural/ Still, looks like one fervent atheist just couldn't bear the existence of that prayer in her school. Again, I feel like saying the school should have known better, but...
john September 21, 2012 at 11:16 PM
I would like to see an effort to stop kids from walking around school with their butts hanging out. Banning a father daughter dance is ridiculous.
Wyatt Worm September 21, 2012 at 11:18 PM
I agree that the rejection from the dance does not entitle her to speech. We are however, all entitled to bellyache by the constitution. One does not need to be a member of a collective to be discriminated against anymore than one needs to be a member of a collective to reject discrimination.
Wyatt Worm September 21, 2012 at 11:22 PM
I don't think that anyone has an issue with prayer in school, so long as it is not a public school which is the extension of the secular republic within which we all live. By definition, such a republic must remain neutral on religion. It should not require an atheist teenager to remind the school of their stewardship of this position, it should be easily recognizable and responsibly avoided as an offense by any well informed citizen.
Kelley Fuller September 22, 2012 at 01:34 AM
One of my most cherished memories were the annual father-daughter dinners I attended with my dad. It was "our" time together with no else in the family, and being with the other dads and girls was great. It is one of the things I reflect on when I remember him in life. I am saddened that we have come to the point at which such events have become so legally dissected that they are eliminated out of fear of stepping on someone's toes, even if it's one person - or even a hypothetical person - who can't bear the possibility of personal disappointment. I am sad for daughters who will never have some of the positive experiences I had because we must avoid any missteps that will cause someone's feelings to be hurt. My guess is that mother is completely unaware and apparently uncaring of what she has extinguished for others. Having had my 3 years of law school, I know the legal reasoning behind the ruling; the logic is not lost on me. I know that a civilization cannot exist without laws; but it also cannot exist for long without grace, true compassion for one another, and plain common sense. It will literally rule itself out of existence. Stories like this make me sad for other traditions that will go by the wayside next.
Wyatt Worm September 22, 2012 at 08:43 AM
Kelly - The appeal to tradition, that is to say that something is true because we have always held it to be true, in the absence of other evidence is a logical fallacy. The notion that the infringement of rights has occurred before and was left unrecognized is not the same as saying those rights were never infringed or that it was right to do so. Further, the emotional value you describe related to your experience does not seem at all to require gender bias. I am not sure how a mother bringing her daughter to such a dance threatens such an experience. I similarly struggle with how one feels sad for daughters who miss the dance via a ban vs daughters who miss the dance via gender bias. Is not the harm exactly the same on either side? To be clear, the mother did not ban the dance. She clearly is highly motivated to have the dances continue. It was others who decided that it was a superior moral position to end dances rather than relax gender bias or their antipathy for single mothers.
Wyatt Worm September 22, 2012 at 09:42 AM
Kelly - Not to be insensitive to your memories, I am also interested in your ideas on why such dances that inarguably are cherished are required to end by virtue of the notion that they may not be appropriate in a publicly funded forum? Is there not a dimension of this where we say, private voluntary associations are protected, even when they discriminate in ways that are not publicly supportable? Just a follow-on thought that occurred to me after the first reply.
Stephen Christian September 22, 2012 at 11:37 AM
maybe we should ban teachers from using red ink when correcting papers so that nobody knows that our child got something wrong and that our child's self esteem is still intact.
Wyatt Worm September 22, 2012 at 11:41 AM
If they are discriminating along gender lines while doing so, then yes that should be banned. I don't know that it is true that receiving a correction on an assignment by way of an education has been positively linked to low self-esteem. Please post a reference so that I may educate myself. It is an interesting topic.
Lisa Rose September 22, 2012 at 05:47 PM
I find it sad that this mom couldn't think of one male role model in her daughter's life who could accompany her. What a great opportunity to teach about "the family we choose"...but then again, people like this mom just don't get the big picture.
Ken September 22, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Society is sick.
Ken September 22, 2012 at 08:50 PM
They should ban Cranston school Superintendent Judith Lundsten from her job!
Ken September 22, 2012 at 09:03 PM
The ACLU has no point. Father daughter dance should not be banned. Single mothers should not be allowed to attend with daughter. I am sure the mother can find an uncle, grandfather, godfather or friend. This lady is a trouble maker.
Ken September 22, 2012 at 09:08 PM
The mother probably doesent know who the father is.
tom September 23, 2012 at 09:25 PM
wwow what a sick society we live in . This woman as well as the state is brain dead. What the hell are we becoming.
Michael Quinlan September 24, 2012 at 12:54 PM
We're becoming Democrats.


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