A school district in Cranston, Rhode Island has banned father-daughter dances and mother-son ballgames after a single mother complained to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).  Apparently, the daughter of the single mother could not attend the dance because she did not have a father.  According to the ACLU, “such gender-based events violate Rhode Island's gender-discrimination law.”  Normally, I support the ACLU, but I have one word for this: UNREAL!

What Is Gender Discrimination?

When a state actor, such as a public school, discriminates against an individual based on their sex that is called gender discrimination.  However, a state actor can justify the gender discrimination if they can show that the discrimination is substantially related to an important government purpose."  This is known as the Intermediate Scrutiny standard.  They must also show that there is an Exceedingly Persuasive Justification to support its actions.  Private schools that are not funded by the state are not considered state actors and do not have to worry about gender discrimination.  However, this situation involved a public school, a state actor. 

This being said, I still don’t understand how father-daughter dances promote gender discrimination and infringe on civil liberties.

How Do Father-Daughter Dances Promote Gender Discrimination?

ACLU defended its position stating, “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.”  They claim that, "this type of gender stereotyping only perpetuates outdated notions of 'girl' and 'boy' activities.”  How are public schools fostering the notion that girls prefer formal dances?  They are simply following tradition! Why shouldn’t girls be allowed to go to school dances with their fathers?  Attending these events is a cherished right of passage.  These events provide a chance for parents and children to make memories and strengthen bonds.  Our society should encourage this type of involved relationship between parent and child.

Now, I certainly sympathize with the little girl who does not have a father to take her to the dance.  That is very unfortunate, but she can bring someone else, perhaps a grandfather, uncle or brother.  Depriving the masses of the opportunity to go to this event will not bring back the poor girl's father.  A discrimination complaint under these circumstances makes little sense to me.  There are plenty of noble and valid situations where civil liberties are being trampled.  The ACLU needs to pick its battles and lay off time-honored occasions such as these.

Do you think father-daughter dances are discriminatory?