An elementary school in New York has sparked a heated debate over its decision to cancel its traditional father-daughter dance, ostensibly in compliance with U.S. Department of Education mandates that went into effect last year.
According to the New York Post, the policy update requires schools to forego “gender-based” events and programs unless they provide a proven educational benefit.
Staten Island’s PS 65 has decided to err on the side of caution by abruptly cancelling the annual dance set for later this week.
Toni Bennett, president of the school’s PTA, wrote in a Facebook statement to parents that the decision was a precautionary measure.
“Until we understand what we are legally permitted to do, we need to table this event,” the post read.
The explanation did not satiate some parents who were irate over the sudden cancellation of the anticipated event, which has been replaced with a gender-neutral event scheduled for early March.
Many felt the move was unnecessary, or at least too swift.
Matthew West, who has two daughters attending the school, was among those who blamed increased political correctness for what they deem an overreaction.
“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,” he said, arguing the school should leave its dances the way they were.
Jose Garcia, another father looking forward to the dance, said he respects those of all viewpoints but does not think taking away an anticipated event at the last minute was fair to anyone involved.
His daughter, Jolene, fondly recalled getting to “wear dresses and hang out with our friends” at previous dances she attended with her dad.
The Department of Education’s LGBT community liaison, however, defended the decision as well as the recently enacted Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Student Guidelines on which it was based.
“Father-daughter dances inherently leave people out,” Jared Fox said. “Not just because of transgender status, just life in general. These can be really uncomfortable and triggering events.”