A Rhode Island school district has banned father-daughter dances and mother-son baseball games after a single mom complained that her daughter wasn’t able to attend a dance. This past May, the mother filed a complaint with the Rhode Island branch of the ACLU because her daughter did not have a male figure to escort her to the dance. Ironically the dance in question was the longest running event ran by the PTA. To resolve the issue and comply with the state’s gender discrimination laws, the ACLU banned gender specific activities, such as the dance and mother-son baseball.

“I think when schools tell girls ‘You love dances’ and boys ‘You love baseball games,’ I think that is going too far,” Rhode Island ACLU executive director Steven Brown told talk-radio station WPRO-FM. “That is the whole point of having laws and policies to say public schools should not be the business of really encouraging such blatant stereotypes about what girls like and what boys like.

Of course many parents are up in arms over the decision. Most have cited that the events are not about gender, but are a long-standing tradition for family bonding in their community. “I’m outraged. My family looks forward to this,” Lisa Shaljian Mancini told WBZ-TV. “I have three daughters in the school system, and they love this event.”

The decision also has one Republican Senate candidate outraged, especially since his son is being directly affected. In good ole Republican fashion, he calls the ban an “assault on traditional family values”. “For generations, we’ve had mother-daughter, father-son events. My wife was looking forward to taking our son to the annual mother-son event” Sean Gately told Fox News.

The ACLU’s Steven Brown released a statement on Tuesday:

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. PTOs (parent teacher organizations) remain free to hold family dances and other events, but the time has long since passed for public school resources to encourage stereotyping from the days of Ozzie and Harriet. Not every girl today is interested in growing up to be Cinderella — not even in Cranston.

Because of the Title IX law, which is the federal law against sex discrimination in schools, plenty of kids will have to go without the tradition of a father-daughter dance or mother-son baseball games. But this law does not exclude the school from having all-inclusive parent-child activities. The mayor of Cranston feels the law is too narrowly defined and is subjective. “That is what is most frustrating about the entire scenario right now,” Cranston Mayor Allan Fung told WBZ-TV in Boston. “Because of one complaint, many children, many sons, many daughters might not have those memories that we all cherish growing up.”

Do you think a town with a standing tradition should be punished because of one child? How else do you think this issue could be resolved?

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