Are you kidding me?
When does political correctness cross the line?
OK, that’s a joke just waiting for a punchline.
But perhaps it found one in Cranston, R.I., where two time-honored traditions – father-daughter dances and mother-son ballgames – are no longer allowed at school.
Cranston School Superintendent Judith Lundsten had the unpleasant job of informing school organizations that such activities violated the state’s discrimination law.
According to the Associated Press, Lundsten wrote: “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 child from full participation in school activities and events based on gender. Please be all-inclusive when planning your events.”
Another wonderful childhood memory bites the dust.
But don’t judge the superintendent too harshly; she claims her hands were tied.
The real Grinch in this story is the American Civil Liberties Union, acting on behalf of a single mother. You can almost imagine the ACLU wringing its collective hands and sneering, “I must stop this whole thing … but how?”
It’s not a great leap, the organization’s official response was a bit “grinchy” in tone.
Here it is, in part:
“… the school district recognized that in the 21st Century, public schools have no business fostering the notion that girls prefer to go to formal dances while boys prefer baseball games.
“This type of gender stereotyping only perpetuates outdated notions of ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ activities and is contrary to federal law.
“[Parent-teacher organizations] 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 – not even in Cranston. In fact, one of them might make a great major league baseball player someday.”
Oh, so this is about stereotyping.
One might have been misled that the heart of the problem was a little girl without a dad – no one to take her to the dance.
But no. According to the ACLU, it’s about little girls who don’t want to go to the dance. For those little girls, the answer is easy. Don’t go.
For the little girl without a dad to take her, the answer is harder, it’s true, but … another holiday movie comes to mind.
It’s Christmas in St. Louis, 1903, and Judy Garland’s date can’t take her to the ball. But in “Meet Me in St. Louis,” they don’t cancel the ball. The grandfather of Garland’s character – someone who loves her – steps to the plate and the evening is magical.
Sometimes in the midst of being so fair – so cautious – so safe we lose sight of kids just being kids.
“What are you playing?”
“Cowboys and … I mean cow people and Native Americans.”
Doesn’t quite have the same ring, does it?
And, we might do a double take if the Girl Scout who comes to our door to sell cookies is named Fred, or if the Boy Scout down the street is named Sue. For those of us who grew up in the days when Girl Scouts were girls and Boy Scouts were boys, we might scratch and wonder, “What was so wrong with the way it was?”
Of course, that statement applies to dozens of childhood memories. Remember, standing with your class to say The Pledge of Allegiance, “one nation under God” included – playing Red Rover, which is now deemed both politically incorrect and dangerous – swinging on swings that were hung just high enough to be just a little bit scary. Sadly, in Cranston, they’ve added standing on your dad’s feet and dancing like Cinderella and sharing a hot dog in the bleachers with Mom.
They say it takes a while for East Coast trends to reach the Midwest. Let’s hope so.