An New York elementary school has postponed a father-daughter dance after officials decided the event did not comply with a new district policy requiring gender inclusivity. The move sparked backlash from several parents, who argued that the policy was unfair to traditional families.
PS 65 was slated to hold a father-daughter dance on Feb. 9 before the school’s parent-teacher association and the school’s principal, Sophie Scamardella, mutually agreed that the dance would clash with New York Department of Education policy. School officials abruptly announced that the event would be postponed until March 2 and be overhauled to welcome parents and students of all genders.
“We have clear guidelines in place that require schools to maintain welcoming and supportive environments at all events, and Principal Scamardella worked closely with the PTA to ensure the event was in the best interest of the entire school community,” DOE spokesperson Miranda Barbot told SILive.
In May 2017, the New York DOE implemented its Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Guidelines, a policy that guided schools in the district to not hold events that were gender-exclusive unless they served a clear educational purpose. PS 65 officials worried that the father-daughter dance would clash with the new guidance.
Several parents voiced outrage and deemed the postponement to be political correctness run amok.
“They’re trying to take away everything that everybody grew up on and has come to know and I don’t think it’s fair or right,” father Matthew West told the New York Post. “They should leave it the way it was — father-daughter, mother-son.”
“It’s not fair at all,” said father Jose Garcia. “I have nothing against no one but I don’t think that it should affect the school, or the kids for that matter.”
GOP Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis of New York reached out to the DOE urging a revision to the gender guidelines.
“People are very upset with this,” Malliotakis told CBS New York. “They feel that it is government intrusion at its worst. It is a political agenda that’s being pushed where there aren’t many students that are affected, and if there is a student who is transgender in an elementary school then let’s accommodate that student.”
Malliotakis asserted that the district could accommodate transgender and gender-nonconforming students without disrupting traditional events.
“We can be inclusive and accommodate students who are transgender but we don’t need to eliminate all gender-related activities in our schools,” the congresswoman said.
Meanwhile, not every parent was upset that the father-daughter dance would be revamped to invite parents and students of all genders.
“If there’s a situation that’s going to make a child uncomfortable, feel left out, sad because they can’t attend that’s not what we want,” said mother Roxanne Ingroe.
ACLU Women’s Rights Project Director Lenora Lapidus asserted that gendered traditions were outdated and did not factor in how American families had changed.
“For example, father-daughter dances exclude children raised by single moms, lesbian couples, a grandmother, or who otherwise don’t have male figures in their lives,” Lapidus told Yahoo Lifestyle.
Lapidus added: “These father-daughter dances are a throwback to the 1950s nuclear family, and don’t at all address the realities of diverse families.”