Single mom dressed as 'dad' for daughter's school dance denied entrance

Single mother Amy Peterson dressed up as a man to take her daughter to her elementary school's annual father-daughter dance, but was called at home and directly told by the principal not to come (photo courtesy WXIA)
Deborah Tuff
Adrianne Haney

LOCUST GROVE, Ga. (WXIA) - Amy Peterson is a single mother who says she'd do anything for her 6-year-old daughter Gracie. So, when it came time for the annual father-daughter dance at her child's Locust Grove, Georgia elementary school, Peterson did just that.

Peterson thought it would be memorable if she dressed up as a dad and took her daughter, but she didn't even make it inside. The mom said she was barred from the dance after school leaders said she wasn't a man.

"I was trying to comply with the rules," Peterson told NBC station WXIA. "I knew if I showed up as her mom, they probably wouldn't have let me in."

Instead, Peterson donned mascara for a beard - she watched tutorials online so she could master the effect - and clothes larger than her regular size. She even topped off the look with cologne. But when Peterson and Gracie, who was dressed in her Sunday's best, were getting ready to head out for the dance, she got an unexpected phone call.

"An hour before, the school principal called saying she caught rumor that her [Gracie's] mother was bringing her and she forbid us to come, and if we showed up we would be turned away," Peterson said.

So, they didn't go.

A Henry County Schools spokesperson said the school apologized and gave Peterson her money back. Peterson said she still hasn’t received either. But she said what she’s facing now is something a refund can't replace.

“She screamed, ‘No, why? Why do I have to be the one missing a dad'," Peterson recounted. “She was just excited that we were doing this together.”

Henry County Schools said they don't sensor who can and can't attend the dances, but individual schools can. For the father-daughter dance, a male figure can come in lieu of a dad. Same thing for mother-son dances. Anyone is welcome at the sweetheart dance.

But after Peterson’s experience, she said she wants change. Even if it means going to lawmakers.

“This is my baby,” she said. “I don't want to see her go through this. And if I have to fight tooth and nail to make sure this doesn't happen to another child, I will.”

Henry County Schools told WXIA they hope to continue open dialogue on the issue. In the meantime, Peterson said she plans to homeschool her daughter next year.

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