Earlier this month, a second-grader at Eisenhower Elementary School in Clearwater was barred from attending her school’s daddy-daughter dance, since her father isn’t in the picture.
The girl’s mom, Trisha Palacios, tried to find male family friends to escort her 8-year-old, Alyssa, to the dance, but that fell through. When Palacios decided she would take her daughter to the dance herself, school officials told her that wouldn’t be happening.
This heartbreaking news made the local NBC station. Clips of little Alyssa gushing over the dress she was to wear to the event alternated with other clips of her mother sitting on her couch crying about how unfair it was that they weren’t permitted to go to the dance.
Thankfully, a good Samaritan caught wind of the story and paid for the Palacios family to fly over to Mount Vernon for their daddy-daughter dance.
At elementary schools across the country, daddy-daughter dances are held in the days surrounding Valentine’s Day. These are basically self-explanatory: Dads and daughters get dressed in their most formal attire and enjoy a night of family-friendly fun.
It’s a cherished bonding experience that many girls remember for years to come, and it also serves to let girls know what to expect from a future romantic partner.
Unfortunately, as seen in the situation above, not everyone gets to enjoy the tradition of the daddy-daughter dance.
Many little girls don’t have fathers in their lives. People get deported, serve their country overseas, pass away unexpectedly or just decide to pack their things up one day and leave.
Not everyone has a traditional family unit with a mom, a dad, two kids and a dog. There are other family figures in children’s lives and that’s okay.
Another flaw that daddy-daughter events harbor is that they can be very heteronormative. If they exist to let girls know how a romantic partner should treat them, why does it only have to be the father who gets to take them to these events?
There are only real events like this for fathers and their daughters, but not any for mothers and their daughters or fathers and their sons and rarely mothers and their sons.
This furthers the assumption by many that little girls, among other children, will end up straight, which stems from homophobia in parents.
A word of warning: not all homophobic parents are bible-thumping Christians who protest at military funerals and Slipknot concerts. Some of them are very kind about it, which is a weird term to associate with homophobia. A parent politely telling his or her child that being with someone of the same gender just wouldn’t be something he or she would be interested in is an example of this.
I believe that all genders should have a positive example of what to look for in a relationship. I also believe that girls without fathers shouldn’t be excluded from a fun night out. What’s the perfect solution? An all-encompassing event that children can bring any family members to!