In Rhode Island it is against state gender discrimination laws for schools to host any sort of Father-Daughter; or Mother-Son functions. This was brought to light in Cranston Rhode Island when a single mother sent a letter to the American Civil Liberties Union, complaining that her daughter wasn’t allowed to attend a school Father-Daughter dance.
The Federal Law, known as Title IX; exempts Father-Daughter/Mother-Son activities, but Rhode Island state law does not provide for this exemption.
When I first saw the headline I was as miffed about this as I have been with many of the other irrational, lacking in common sense, school board rulings that seem to be becoming a weekly, if not daily occurrence. However, once I read the article I realized that in our modern society things are a little more complicated. Here we have a single mother whose daughter is being excluded from an activity because, for whatever the reason is, she hasn’t a father. There could be other instances where gay couples’ children would be excluded from similar activities too, because they may have two fathers, or two mothers; and exclusion of people because of race, creed, color, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or because they are lacking a mother or a father is really not too kosher in a free society.
Then there is the part of me that says, “It’s just a dance. It isn’t meant to be discriminatory, it is meant as an opportunity of bonding between a Father and his Daughter.”
Quite honestly I am a little torn here, because the believer in liberty in me agrees that there should be no discrimination of any kind; but the “c’mon man” side of me knows that these Father-Daughter/Mother-Son things are not really meant to be anything but what they are; which like I said are merely bonding events. Yet, here we have a little girl who cannot participate because she is lacking a father, and there are numerous combinations where someone could be excluded.
What if you have what is now known as a traditional marriage, but your only children are sons or daughters? In that instance some of these activities would lead to you and your child being excluded. Is it the end of the world? No, and not to beat a dead horse here, because these functions are not meant to be hurtful, they are meant to be fun; but again, here we have an example where a simple little thing like a dance has led to a little girl being left out of the fun through no fault of her own.
The Rhode Island school committee recognizes the challenges that modern family dynamics brings to something as simple as a Father-Daughter dance, and according to committee member, Janice Ruggieri, the committee is working towards adjusting the rules to where schools can host family dances and events that will accommodate all types of parenting situations. A traditionalist will say that this is all ridiculous. However a rational person would say that given the fact that there are 21 million children living in single parent households, and that number is rising, then that is an awful lot of kids who aren’t going to be able to participate in one or the other father-daughter/mother-son events – and that is just the single parent families.
With marriage equality for gays and lesbians continuing to grow then that brings another dynamic to the table. Besides, don’t you think a family dance would be a bit more fun? For the kids there would be more of their peers there, and for the parents it would allow all of them to become more involved with not just their kids, but with their kids’ schools too. Plus, if you happen to be a single parent; then maybe you might meet another single parent there – just try not to sneak under the bleachers if you know what I mean; you are after all supposed to be the mature people there, and setting a good example for the children.
To once again quote Dennis Miller, “That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.”
The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority. (Ralph W. Sockman)