Amy Peterson knew how badly her six-year-old daughter, Gracie, wanted to go to her school’s daddy-daughter dance. But Gracie’s dad isn’t in the picture—Peterson is a single mom, taking on both roles as mother and father. Not wanting her to miss this fun opportunity, Peterson decided to accompany her daughter to the dance dressed like a father! Fake beard and all. How awesome is she?
Peterson submitted the paperwork letting the school know she would be doing this a month in advance and as the date of the dance grew closer, Gracie and her friends (who were excited to see Mrs. Peterson dressed up) became ever more excited. But the night of the dance, an hour before it would start, Peterson received a call from the principal telling her not to come.
“She [the principal] said, ‘No. I forbid you to come and if you show up we will turn you away.’ How do you explain that to a 6-year-old? You can’t go to a dance because you don’t have a male role model in your life?”
Really? A million things to get done, as a principal of an elementary school and this is the battle you chose to fight? Seems to me like this principal squashed a little girl’s excitement, last minute, just because her mom doesn’t have a penis and therefore isn’t seen as a father figure.
What makes this situation even worse is that Gracie had been bullied about this dance, as well as in the past, about not having a father in her life. Her mom explained in an interview that kids had been harshly teasing Gracie, laughing at her for not getting to go because she didn’t have a daddy around.
Gracie was, understandably, very upset when her mother told her the news. Why should kids like Gracie, who come from single parent homes, be punished? Yes, there are other events that Peterson will be able to attend with her daughter, but that is not the point. This was a memory they wanted to have together, especially since the invitation said that “in lieu of a dad,” any “family or friend father figure” could come. Since single mothers have to take that role for their children, I don’t see why Peterson’s gender should bar her from events like this. Especially since she dressed for the part, to distract as little as possible.
The Henry County School District issued a statement on the matter that read, in part:
“The school is cognizant that different dynamics exist across households in our school system… There are multiple parent engagement events and opportunities to participate with their kids annually at this school in an effort to make that connection and build school spirit.”
I understand the district and school need to protect themselves from any disruptions that could lead to legal issues, and in today’s world, a fuss can be made in a courtroom about pretty much everything. So maybe the principal thought she was in the right, getting ahead of the “issue” so she could avoid possible complaints from anyone who didn’t want moms there. I understand there are other opportunities and activities for single parent families. But this is the one Gracie wanted a memory of. And I know we don’t get to have everything we want in life, but her entitlement to go is not the issue here. To deliberately keep a child from a fun event (and one she previously thought she could go to, in Gracie’s case) just because of something she has no control over is the issue.
And this begs the question: What about the children who have two parents, but they are of the same sex? If a child had two mothers, would they be barred as well, assuming neither parent could be a “fatherly figure?”
The District has stated they issued an apology and refund of the admission ticket, but Peterson says she hasn’t seen either. She wants this experience to be the last of it’s kind and is pursing actions to change the rule for future single-parent kids.
Do you side with the school or with the mom? How do you think this should have been handled?