CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) - It's the end of a tradition for families and schools in Cranston. There will be no more father-daughter dances or mother-son events in the city.
The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to Cranston School Superintendent Judith Lundsten on behalf of a single mother. The complaint revolved around the woman's daughter being unable to attend a father-daughter dance at her school.
"I truly believe that no one intended to hurt anyone's feelings with this. That they wanted to be inclusive, but that they also like the traditional type of activities," said Lundsten.
From the city's mayor to taxpayers, backlash is growing fast in Cranston.
"Why would you cancel it based on one woman's opinion?" said Ann Clanton, a Cranston resident.
"I think it's not right to cancel the dance for everybody, for one person. It's not right," added Helene Manish.
"I think it's a tricky issue. I do feel for the families and children that don't have a mother or a father figure," said Brooke Brown, also a Cranston resident.
Father and taxpayer Adam Roy is upset he is missing out on the age-old tradition with his daughter.
"There's not many opportunities for a father to be with their daughter. I think it's a travesty to be quite honest with you," said Roy.
Aida Pogacar disagrees.
"Change the event. If they are going to do it, they need to change the event. Otherwise, it's better not to do it."
Mayor Allan Fung released a statement Tuesday on the school department's ban on father-daughter dances.
"I am utterly disappointed to have such a time-honored tradition under attack in the name of political correctness. Traditions like this are what make up the fabric of our childhood memories and definitely contribute to the well being of our children as a whole," Fung said.
He continued: "In the zeal to protect people who feel they are being disenfranchised, this policy has completely denied our children of one of the most cherished traditions in their school experience. I sympathize with these parents because it seems once again that Cranston is at the epicenter of another attack on our traditions by the ACLU.
"I have been flooded with calls from angry parents upset with the Cranston School Department's decision to ban gender specific events like the Father-Daughter dances in Cranston. Although I do not have any legal authority over the issue, I implore the Cranston School Committee to review this decision and find a way to make this work for the children and their parents.
"I encourage all parents that are upset with this decision to contact their school committee members and make their voices be heard."
Steven Brown, Executive Director of the Rhode Island ACLU also issued a statement Tuesday in response to the controversy that he calls a "four-month-old Cranston school matter."
Brown wrote in part, "The controversy that has suddenly arisen in a political campaign over father-daughter dances in Cranston is old news – the matter was amicably resolved with school officials over four months ago. And it was resolved for a simple reason: 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. This type of gender stereotyping only perpetuates outdated notions of "girl" and "boy" activities and is contrary to federal law."
This is the second highly disrupted situation in Cranston this year.
Back in February, a school prayer banner was removed following a lawsuit with Cranston West High School.
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