Rhode Island dominated headlines earlier this year after a teen atheist successfully sued to have a prayer mural removed from Cranston High School West in Cranston, Rhode Island. Now, there's two new targets within the very same school district: Father-daughter dances and mother-son baseball games.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has now successfully stopped gender-based events from unfolding. An effort to halt these practices took form after a mother, upset over the fact that her daughter doesn't have an active father in her life and, thus, feels left out of the aforementioned dance, complained to the civil rights group.
In the end the ACLU was successful in nixing the dances and baseball games, as the school district very quickly bowed to its demands and cancelled both traditions. Cranston Public Schools Superintendent Judith Lundsten said that the events were being halted so that the district would be in compliance with state-gender discrimination law.
"I acknowledge that many of these events have long traditions and for many parents, these types of gender-based events are not an issue," Lundsten wrote in a letter to school groups. "However, this is a public school system and under no circumstances should be isolating any child from full participation in school activities and events based on gender. Please be all-inclusive when planning your events."
Cranston Mayor Allan Fung said Tuesday he was "utterly disappointed" that the Cranston schools superintendent removed the events in what the mayor called "the name of political correctness" after the state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union complained last spring.
School Committee Member Andrea Iannazzi also said the committee will consider at a Monday meeting a resolution asking the General Assembly to change state law to allow the events.
ACLU Executive Director Steven Brown has commended the school district for banning gender-based events and has called them inappropriate. Rather than serving as positive and traditional events that members of the community enjoy, Brown claimed that these initiatives play into gender stereotypes (i.e. dances being for girls and baseball games for boys).
"Not every girl today is interested in growing up to be Cinderella -- not even in Cranston," Brown said in a statement. "In fact, one of them might make a great major league baseball player someday."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.