HomeDistrictRiver School’s Father-Daughter Family Dance and Mother-Son Family Carnival canceled amid controversy

River School’s Father-Daughter Family Dance and Mother-Son Family Carnival canceled amid controversy

Published Mar. 10, 2022

BY EMMA BROWN

Following complaints from students and community members about a lack of inclusivity, as well as Carmel Unified School District’s decision that the events were in violation of Title IX, River School’s Parent-Teacher Association has opted to cancel the Father-Daughter Family Dance and Mother-Son Family Carnival.

“We will be re-evaluating the events we had planned for the rest of the year based on the concerns expressed directly to the PTA board by a small, but vocal number of families,” wrote the PTA board in their February email.

The River School PTA board could not be reached for further comment.

The controversy surrounding the events originally began when a group of fifth grade students created a petition to change the names of the functions in an effort to be more inclusive to those who are gender non-conforming, as well as those with non-traditional family dynamics. In the weeks following the petition, the students and parents spoke at a PTA board meeting, expressing their concerns with the event titles.

Despite efforts of some community members, the PTA board sent an email to the River School community Nov. 20 explaining that there would be no change to the event titles.

The Board appreciates the sensitivity of the issue, but it is inevitably up to each family to navigate their particular set of circumstances to decide whether it will attend the optional events (e.g. bring a family member, family friend, etc.),” wrote the PTA board. “The word ‘family’ is also included in the event names to convey that all are welcome at the events.”

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  • I understand the objections to the titles of the events. “Father daughter dance” reflects a tradition that fits many people, but not all. What if a girl has two mothers? What if the child is gender nonbinary? We need to be aware that not everyone fits into these traditional gender stereotypes and plan events that don’t exclude people. As a very involved father, I was frustrated by the “Mommy and me” events. I felt excluded from parenting. I empathize with others who don’t fit into traditional norms. Be aware of the fact that not everyone follows traditional norms.

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