The school is changing the event to comply with NYC’s gender inclusivity guidelines
P.S. 65 in Staten Island, New York, recently canceled its annual Daddy-Daughter Dance, and some parents are pissed. They’re pissed because, for some, the dance is a long-held tradition that they look forward to every year. But more than anything, they seem to be pissed because of why the PTA called the dance off: because it appears to run counter to a New York City Department of Education policy that gender-specific activities not be held unless they serve an educational purpose.
This is making parents angry because kindness is inconvenient. Wait, I mean, because change is hard. No, hang on, I mean because they don’t want to think about transgender children. No, no, I’ve got it — it’s because Daddy-Daughter Dances are the only way for fathers and cisgender daughters to bond. No…I mean…wait, why is this such a big deal, again?
On the New York City Department of Education’s website, there’s a section on Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Student Guidelines. These guidelines, which cover everything from restroom accessibility to how to use the correct names and pronouns, also address “gender-based policies, rules and practices.” According to the guidelines, “schools should review such policies, rules and practices, and should eliminate any that do not serve a clear pedagogical purpose.”
Ok, cool. So no one gets excluded and we take care of and support all our kids. Let’s not forget that there are also a lot of daughters out there without dads, sons without moms, and kids without any parents at all. Shouldn’t they feel represented as well? Besides, most of those gender-based rules are ridiculous anyway. For example, some schools have a rule that girls can wear earrings but boys can’t. That’s clearly based on sexist and homophobic sentiments and is something we can do away with, right? And surely something as unnecessary as a “Daddy-Daughter Dance” can be shelved for something more inclusive, right?
Not if you’re parents like the ones throwing a fit over P.S. 65’s decision to shelve this dance and replace it with something that welcomes everyone. One P.S. 65 father told New York Channel 4: “I think it’s dumb. But I guess politicians have nothing better to do than to politicize everyday life.” Right?! Next, they’ll be telling me who I can marry and who I can’t. Can you even imagine?
New York Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who has been quoted in multiple stories about this dance, has the same reason for wanting to keep Daddy-Daughter dances that racists do for not wanting to get rid of the Confederate flag or the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo logo: It’s tradition! She posted a letter she wrote to schools Chancellor Carmen Farina on Facebook that reads, in part: “I ask that this policy please be reconsidered so that students can continue to partake in the same activities they have enjoyed for decades and so that every American family does not feel that their culture and traditions are under attack by an unnecessary government intrusion.”
Many of her commenters agreed with her:
Psst: This isn’t about lesbians and gay men trying to punish non-homosexuals. In fact, homosexuality isn’t even the topic here. Oh, Bill.
Psst: Transgender kids are also kids that deserve beautiful memories.
Psst: Might want to leave out the “first date” comparison. Also: *You’re.
Psst:…Never mind. There’s too much.
Listen — sometimes, the traditions people grow up with are wrong. Sometimes, thank God, our culture evolves on social issues. Sometimes it’s not worth holding on to traditions that hurt other people. And when I say “hurt other people,” I don’t mean “make people mad or uncomfortable,” I mean that these kinds of traditions challenge those folks’ very identities and tell them that they are inferior to others. And maintaining them says that we as a culture, a school, a team, or a community support that dehumanization.
When it comes to children, this lack of consideration is heartless. These aren’t kids that expect the world to change for them. These aren’t kids that are sad that they’re going to miss out on a fun activity. These are kids at risk of hurting themselves. I’d say that’s worth finding a different way for dads to bond with their daughters. (Those exist, right? Like, spending the day together and stuff? Ok. Just checking.)
The school has decided to hold a “Dolphin Dance” in honor of the school’s mascot on March 2nd.