The reasons for outlawing a father-daughter dance are interesting, as it shows the liberal principles we are all ruled by at work.
a) Making our sex not matter
Liberals hold that what matters most is individual autonomy - the power to self-determine. Therefore, whatever can't be self-determined becomes an impediment to human freedom. Our sex is predetermined and not self-determined and therefore, under the logic of liberalism, must be made not to matter.
The Cranston parents' association had organised a father-daughter dance for the boys and a mother-son visit to a baseball game for the boys. The choice of these events assumed that our sex does matter - that girls will generally be more interested in a dance, and boys in a baseball game. The ACLU felt that the school was therefore acting against liberal principles; what the ACLU wants the school to do is to actively overturn such ideas about gender.
Here is what the ACLU had to say on the issue:
The controversy that has suddenly arisen in a political campaign over father-daughter dances in Cranston is old news – the matter was amicably resolved with school officials over four months ago. And it was resolved for a simple reason: the school district recognized that in the 21st Century, public schools have no business fostering the notion that girls prefer to go to formal dances while boys prefer baseball games. This type of gender stereotyping only perpetuates outdated notions of 'girl' and 'boy' activities and is contrary to federal law.And in another letter the ACLU states:
"PTOs remain free to hold family dances and other events, but the time has long since passed for public school resources to encourage stereotyping from the days of Ozzie and Harriet. Not every girl today is interested in growing up to be Cinderella – not even in Cranston. In fact, one of them might make a great major league baseball player someday."
In sum, we hope that the school district will work to discourage, not promote, the sort of typecasting activities inherent in the baseball and dance events for school students.
Note that this is not just an isolated case of political correctness - the ACLU believes it has federal law on its side.
If there is an established ideology in the U.S. it is liberalism.
The ACLU brought the complaint against the father-daughter dance on behalf of just one single mother. The single mother claimed that her daughter had no male figure in her life who she might be able to attend with and therefore she was excluded from the dance.
From the ACLU letter:
The variety and diversity of family structures in this day and age counsel against gender-limited events like this...reversion to a more stereotypical format results in the unintentional isolation of some children, preventing some single parents, and those in other non-traditional families, from being able to attend events with their children.
As it happens, the child could have gone to the dance - the school was even willing to allow the mother to attend with the daughter. But that didn't satisfy the ACLU, presumably because a father-daughter dance implies that the traditional family (one with a father) is a norm or standard. The ACLU wants a "family neutral" structure - one in which no particular type of family is given a higher standing.
Again, that's to be expected from a liberal organisation. If you put individual autonomy as your highest good, then you'll want a "variety and diversity of family structures" to make it seem as if you can self-determine how you arrange your family relationships. And no one choice is to be preferred, as that would then raise impediments to an individual's autonomy.
So the traditional family can't be preferred, as it's singular rather than diverse and fixed rather than fluid, and as giving it a higher standing would make some choices less valid than others, which to the liberal mind is discriminatory.
But the liberal position runs into considerable difficulties. One of these is that a liberal is likely to believe that each family type is as good as the other and that all that matters is that members of these family types love each other. But if true this would mean that there is no significant difference between a family with a father in it and one without a father.
It's a momentous moment in the life of a civilisation. If this idea takes hold, that fathers don't add anything to a family that couldn't be supplied by a mother alone - if people really come to believe this - then men are likely to drift away from paternal responsibilities. Why make big sacrifices if there is no benefit in doing so?
A community has to make a decision on this. The Cranston community wanted to reaffirm the importance of the father-daughter relationship by organising the dance and not surprisingly drew fire from a liberal organisation like the ACLU for doing so.