Fathers play a critically important role in the lives of their daughters. Events like the traditional "father-daughter dance," customarily held in schools across our country, celebrate and support the father-daughter bond. But now, at the urging of the ACLU, a public school district in Rhode Island has banned its father-daughter dance. According to Superintendent Judith A. Lundsten, the dance promotes gender stereotypes.
I believe this decision is not just wrong, but harmful to society. Steven Brown, the executive director of the Rhode Island ACLU, stated, "PTOs remain free to hold family dances and other events, but the time has long since passed for public school resources to encourage stereotyping from the days of Ozzie and Harriet. Not every girl today is interested in growing up to be Cinderella."
But there is nothing "stereotypical" about supporting strong relationships between fathers and daughters. To dismiss the father-daughter dance as a throwback to the days of Ozzie and Harriet implies that very notion of a strong father is itself outdated. Such notions are deeply misguided. Fathers are not quaint relics from a bygone era. As a fathers' rights attorney, I have become all too familiar with the risks to girls who grow up in fatherless homes. Girls raised in fatherless homes are more likely to become pregnant before marriage, more likely to marry as teenagers and more likely to dissolve their own marriages.
The simple fact is that a girl's father represents the first significant male relationship in her life. Society has an obligation to support that relationship to avoid the negative social impact of father absence. Because of political correctness, this school district is missing an opportunity to promote responsible fatherhood. Let's hope this is a trend that does not spread.
Jeffery M. Leving
Founder, Fathers' Rights