A handful of vocal Staten Island parents upset after a New York City elementary school postponed its third annual father-daughter dance have accidentally opened up a new front in the Trump war on “political correctness.” The spat started when PS 65 took a look at new New York Department of Education guidelines that mandate gender inclusivity and decided that having a father-daughter dance was in violation because it would constitute “gender-based” programming. They complained loudly on the internet — as one does — and their complaints were heard by Donald Trump Jr., who rushed to the defense of father-daughter dances.
The new DOE rule doesn’t explicitly forbid father-daughter dances, but the school administrators’ reading on the mandate makes — regardless of how you feel about it — logical sense. The word “father” definitely strongly implies gender and the whole formulation could fairly easily be replaced by “Parent-Child Dance.” That said, father-daughter dances, many of which are fundamentally about pushing ideas of chastity, are a tradition and parent-child dances really aren’t. Donald Trump Jr. jumped in on the side of the two-year-old Staten Island tradition by railing against the school’s decision.
“If this doesn’t convince you that the PC/SJW movement has lots (sic) their minds I don’t know what will. This nonsense really needs to stop,” he wrote on Twitter. Other parents echoed his sentiment. “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,” one father told the New York Post. The “they” in question seemed to refer more to a cabal than an actual institution.
In a message to school parents via a private Facebook group, the school’s PTA president Toni Bennet said, “Until we understand what we are legally permitted to do, we need to table this event.” The result of this tabling was a postponement of the event from the originally scheduled date of February 9th to March 2nd. The new event will be open to all kids and their caregivers. And the reason why, it’s worth noting, isn’t just the DOE dictate. According to a Pew Research study, less than half of American children under 18 live with two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage to begin with, and that’s more than a good enough argument for wanting to make the event more inclusionary.
According to the Post report, while PS 65 is thinking of ways to implement the new gender-neutral guidelines, other New York schools have yet to modify their programming.