When single mom Amy Peterson realized her 6-year-old daughter, Gracie, had a father-daughter dance to go to and no father to bring, Amy decided to dress the part and put on fake facial hair and baggy clothes. But one hour before the dance, the principal called and told her she shouldn't even think about showing up because she's a woman.
"How do you explain that to a 6-year-old?" Amy told WSB-TV. "You can't go to a dance because you don't have a male role model in your life. I think they handled it poorly. They shouldn't have turned any parent away."
Gracie is a kindergartner at Locust Grove Elementary School in Locust County, Georgia. Amy said Gracie's classmates don't understand why she doesn't have a dad, and she gets picked on for it.
"Had one kid tell her she didn't have a dad because she's fat and ugly," Amy explained.
So when the father-daughter dance came up and Gracie wanted to go, the two of them decided that Amy would show up, dressed in drag.
"To me, I've identified myself as her father and her mother because that's what I've done for six years," she said, adding that Gracie was "excited that her friends were going to get to see this."
The day of the dance, Amy dressed in loose-fitting clothing and applied a mascara beard, thanks to a YouTube tutorial, notes WXIA.
"I was trying to comply with the rules," Amy told WXIA. "I knew if I showed up as her mom, they probably wouldn't have let me in."
But shortly before they left for the dance, Amy got a phone call from the principal, who had learned that she would be attending. The principal told her not to come.
"[Gracie] screamed, 'No, why?'" recounted Amy. "'Why do I have to be the one missing a dad?' She was just excited that we were doing this together."
The school said it apologized to Amy and refunded her $20, although Amy said that did not happen.
"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," a school spokesperson told WSB-TV. "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."
Amy said that single-parent children are left out when there are gender-specific parent dances and called on the school to make them gender neutral.
"They're already being bullied," she said of children like Gracie. "Why be bullied by the school too? Why is she being punished because she doesn't have a dad?"