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Rhode Island school bans father-daughter dances, says they break the law

Following a complaint filed by the ACLU, school officials in Cranston, R.I. have ended gender specific activities like father-daughter dances and mother-son ballgames to comply with state gender discrimination laws. WJAR's Katie Davis reports.


The school system in Cranston, R.I., announced it is banning traditional father-daughter and mother-son activities, saying they are a violation of the state's gender discrimination law, the Providence Journal reported late Monday.

Superintendent Judith Lundsten told the newspaper the decision was in response to a complaint from the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a single mother who said her daughter was not able to attend a father-daughter dance.

“This is 2012 and they [public schools] should not be in the business of fostering blatant gender stereotypes,” Steven Brown of the Rhode Island ACLU told WPRO News.

According to the Providence Journal, Lundsten said that while federal law banning gender discrimination gives an exemption for such gender-specific events, Rhode Island law does not.

In a letter sent out in August, Lundsten says, “I acknowledge that many of these events have long traditions and for many parents, these types of gender-based events are not an issue, however, this is a public school system and under no circumstances should we be isolating any student from full participation in school activities and events based on gender," according to WPRO.

Sean Gately, a Republican state Senate candidate, brought the ban to light Monday, adding that, if elected, he would work to change the state law, the newspaper reported.

According to The Associated Press, School Committee member Janice Ruggieri said the school system can begin hosting "family dances" to accommodate all kinds of parenting situations.

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