Remove Ban on Father-Daughter Dances in Rhode Island

Target: Rhode Island State Legislature

Goal: To modify the existing gender discrimination law in Rhode Island to allow for father-daughter dances and mother-son baseball games to continue as school sanctioned events

Recently, Rhode Island enacted gender discrimination legislation, which, as interpreted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), makes school sanctioned events like a father-daughter dance against the law. As a consequence, a school district in Cranston Rhode Island  has done away with their annual father-daughter dance and mother-son baseball game after a single mother filed a complaint because her daughter was not allowed to attend the father-daughter dance. These events are meant as bonding opportunities for parents and children, and have no intention of enforcing so-called outdated gender stereotypes. To deny the children and parents these opportunities on these grounds is unacceptable. Make the state legislature change the gender discrimination law so these events can be held again.

This gender law has been on the books for months now, but the change in the school district’s policy came in August when the superintendent sent a letter to district facilities informing them they would no longer be having these events. This was in the response to a challenge of the former policy by the ACLU, which took up the case after a certain Cranston single mother complained to them claiming her daughter was not allowed to attend the father-daughter dance because the girl didn’t have her father to attend with her.

The ACLU has defended its stance by saying “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 sort of reasoning is argumentatively fallacious, as these events in no way communicate that boys or girls should only engage in these respective activities. There is something to be said in these cases for the need to be all inclusive of, and more sensitive to, children with one parent. If these events are to continue then the children who do not have a parent with which to attend an event like this must be allowed to participate if they so wish.

The line must be drawn, however, when people want to do away with these events altogether. Attending will not harm a boy or girl if he or she doesn’t particularly like dances or baseball. Events like this are simply designed as opportunities for people to bond with their children, and vice versa. The people of Rhode Island must take this opportunity to make an allowance for these events to continue, while making them more inclusive for children from single parent homes. Ask the state legislature to modify the gender discrimination law and allow  these events to continue.


Dear members of the Rhode Island State Legislature,

We believe your gender discrimination law goes too far when it is interpreted by school districts to mean father-daughter dances and mother-son baseball games cannot be sanctioned by the schools. In attempting to protect the few individuals who are from single parent homes this law would see the rest disallowed from participating in events that many consider to be endearing traditions. For the American Civil Liberties Union to suggest that these events somehow communicate to children that all boys must like baseball and all girls must like dances is ridiculous.

If certain children are so disposed against a dance or baseball game then there should be an effort to create new events that feature more options for spending time with parents. The idea here isn’t to force perceived stereotypes onto anyone, but rather provide opportunities for children to have fun with their parents. Clearly events like this need to be inclusive of, and sensitive to, children with only one parent who would like to attend. But eliminating such events is not necessary in order to protect students in any way. The concept of these events should be updated and not done away with. We ask you to amend the current gender discrimination law so that these events may continue.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit by Susanica Tam via

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  • Ana Maria Mainhardt Carpes
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