Word went out this week that father-daughter dances have been banned in Cranston, R.I.

Much of the press coverage so far has centered on issues of gender stereotypes and disagreement about how to interpret the language of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender in public education.

Yes, we can—and should—wrestle with the challenges of stereotypes, but that’s not all that’s going on here.

What’s really unfortunate is this school community stands to lose out on special events that have become school traditions, events that create strong connections between families and schools. Whatever these events are called, they make a difference and shouldn’t be easily discarded.

We’re not suggesting that there shouldn’t be conversation about labels like “Father-Daughter, ’’ especially when schools apply a very strict interpretation of this label. But we’ve been talking to parent group leaders about these events for years and, increasingly, we see groups hosting events for adults and children with a variety of names like “Me and My Pal,’’ “Special Grownup and Child,’’ “Sweethearts Dance,” “Family Dance,’’ and “KISS- Kids Invite Someone Special.’’

To see some of the parent group leader discussions about these events, check out our Facebook post from December 2010 or this Message Board thread from August 2010.

What apparently launched the Cranston controversy was an ACLU complaint last year and then a letter from the superintendent of schools sent at the start of the school year stating that all school and family events must “be inclusive.’’

Seems like there’s still opportunity there to bring adults and children together to promote a connected school community.