You wouldn’t expect a kindergartener to understand and accept the complexities of family life. But you’d surely expect that from an elementary school principal, right?
While it hasn’t always been easy for single mother Amy Peterson to raise her daughter on her own, she has worked to ensure that Gracie received the same love and attention as any other one of her classmates.
“To me, I’ve identified myself as her father and her mother because that’s what I’ve done for six years,” Peterson told Channel 2.
For months, the talk of 6-year-old Gracie Peterson’s classroom was her elementary school's father-daughter Dance. So rather than letting Gracie miss out on the dance, Peterson, like all great moms, made alternative plans. After filing the appropriate paperwork with the school, it was agreed that she and her daughter would attend the dance together; Gracie would put on her finest dress and Peterson would put on a fake beard and a bowtie.
The plan was set: It was harmless, it was hilarious, and it allowed Gracie to make the same special memories that every child deserves, regardless of her family dynamic.
Then, an hour before the dance, the principal called with some different news.
“No. I forbid you to come and if you show up, we will turn you away,” the principal told Peterson. The school suggested that she attend the Valentine’s Day dance instead.
Are you serious?
Peterson, who stood before her fully dolled up 6-year-old, was speechless.
What exactly did they want her to do, whip up a male father figure for her daughter especially for the school dance?
Seems like it. In an official statement from the school district, administrators wrote the following: "It was explained that the dance announcement indicated that in lieu of a dad being available to attend, any family or friend father-figure could attend. There are three different dance events the school hosts throughout the year to include everyone. There is a mother-son dance, a father-daughter dance, and sweetheart dance that includes students and anyone they wish to bring.”
In other words, "Try again later."
As bad as this scenario is, what’s worse is that it won’t stop here — other controversies are bound to arise. What happens when children grow up with two moms or two dads? What if a child would rather identify as a daughter than a son? Would they also be banned from attending father-daughter dances?
And another thing — who exactly would it have bothered if Peterson did attend?
An innocent elementary school dance should not be politicized. Sure, the school district said in a statement that they are “cognizant that different dynamics exist across households” within their system. But a simple recognition of diverse familial structures means absolutely nothing to a child who is still made to feel isolated from their peers, not to mention abandoned by their school administrators.