Schoolgirls excluded from Dallas movie screening

Remind me girls, please, what century is this?! It’s not 1912 but sure could be, at least in Dallas, TX, by the likes of this newspaper revelation. Of course, this really is 2012 and as an adult, in this blog, I have the freedom to pick my topics, write what I please, forward to whomever I like and feel content that I live in a society full of choices for women.  The same choices available to men. Turns out that’s not entirely the case, at least for 5th grade girls that live in Dallas.

When a friend forwarded this to me I thought it surely couldn’t be real. (Ya know you can’t trust as fact what you read in the paper.) It had to be a hoax because no school district in this day and age would hold gender-specific events and exclude 50% of the student population based solely on gender. Wow, was I ever wrong.

I’m angry and have no doubt I’m not alone in my reaction. I am particularly offended because the offense involves young girls and the stereotypical assumption that girls wouldn’t be interested in aviation. WHAT?! You send 5,700 5th grade boys to see the new movie “Red Tails” and you leave the same number of girls back at school to watch a “more appropriate” gender-specific movie? What is particularly amazing is that it happened with the movie “Red Tails”, a movie about equality! Ladies, I hope the Dallas Independent School District hears a very loud roar from around the country and evaluates this practice from the Dark Ages.

Associated Press Article

FYI: Dallas Independent School District, board of director’s email  webservices@dallasisd.org.  Phone # 972-925-3700. Address 3700 Ross Ave., Dallas, TX 75204

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Note: I posted the above story on Facebook this morning and there are many heated comments coming in.  I’d like to suggest you send a personal email to the Dallas School Board as a show of support for their young female students. I’d also like to thank Susan Theodorelos for her passionate letter to the Board.  See the following. Judy B

Susan Theodorelos

I’m posting my email to the school board everywhere I can in addition to sending the email to them.
Dallas School Board,

What a prime opportunity to educated young minds on the glories of aviation, the ultimate sacrifices made by military members during World War II and, most importantly, the extraordinary feats of the Tuskeegee Airmen.

Unfortunately, you FAILED miserably.

I would invite your attention to the thousands of women who supported the amazing efforts of this country during World War II. In fact, many of those women TAUGHT Navy and Army Air Corps pilots how to fly! Numerous women like Edna Gardner White and Pancho Barnes had flying schools teaching “everyone” to fly. In fact, Edna Gardner White had a flying school in Texas! Why on earth would you think that young girls would rather see a movie about a spelling bee? Is that the message you are tying to give young girls in your classrooms? That they can aspire to be in a National Spelling Bee but not fly a P-51 Mustang? As a lawyer, pilot and former Navy Officer I am offended and outraged.

I would posit that the federal money you spent to send all those boys on a school outing would have been better spent to have the Tuskeegee Airmen survivors come to your schools and have a discussion with your students after a showing of the film at the school!

I understand that the Women in Aviation Organization is holding their National Conference in Dallas next month. Perhaps you would track down some additional funds to take all the young 5th grade girls to meeting the thousands of women pilots who not only enjoy the pleasures of being a private pilot, but that also transport hundreds of thousands of people on a daily basis in commercial airlines, travel into space, and fly multi-million dollar jets as Army, Navy and Air Force pilots.

You owe this country a huge apology for what you have done. You’ve disrespected the Tuskeegee Airmen, you’ve disrespected women pilots the world over, and most importantly you have disrespected the young girls you have been entrusted to teach.

Susan L. Theodorelos, Esq

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6 Comments
  • Summer Martell
    Posted at 23:14h, 16 February Reply

    Well done Susan for taking a stand on this unacceptable matter. These young ladies deserve an apology and their own screening of the film followed by some encouragement from female pilots who inspire them to pursue their dreams, whatever they may be. I find the irony of this discrimination from a film based on just such bias to be unpalatable. Thank you Susan, for giving voice for us all on this matter. It is my sincere hope that in the long run, this occurrence can be used as an example of why discrimination should never be tolerated, and that reparations are made.

  • Lynn Gardner
    Posted at 18:37h, 14 February Reply

    I have been spreading the word since I read this today. Some of you may know, Mary Jones, former editor of EAA Sport Aviation. She is using her contacts to spread the word. I will be writing the board and sending them a copy of the response email from my daughter (Dr. Kali Ann Holder, DVM) As the daughter of a single mom professional pilot, she had a unique insight. Not trying to toot my horn here….a lot of you gals out there overcame financial challenges and prejudice to fly.

    From Dr. Holder:

    Well, cuz gurls aren’t any good at flying, you know!

    It’s also pretty awful that they assume all of the boys must want to watch a
    war movie, instead of watching a film about academic achievement. Nope,
    can’t have those boys seeing a film with a smart female protagonist who
    doesn’t blow things up! Might make them sissies!

    Sexism is bad for all of those kids, though probably worse for the girls
    (most kids can picture themselves getting good at spelling, but the chance
    to see people overcoming prejudice to become pilots is a much rarer idea).
    When will we figure out that it takes all kinds? Not every kid can
    or should want to be a pilot, and not every kid can be a spelling champion,
    but any kid can have hopes that inspire them to reach for a dream and
    fulfill their potential. And they can all learn that their gender isn’t
    something that should stop them from respecting themselves or others.

    Tangent:
    I love you! And I’m so proud of you, my high-flying, plane-building,
    tail-dragger Mom!!! Even if you are more of a Red-Tail than a Spelling
    Champ 😉

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • tina thomas
    Posted at 08:37h, 13 February Reply

    Wonderful response! Thank you Susan for this!!

  • Gayle
    Posted at 19:19h, 12 February Reply

    Well said, ladies! I will help to spread the word!

  • christina chapman
    Posted at 15:49h, 12 February Reply

    I fly an American Champion Scout bought new 6 years ago. I designed the paint scheme with the Tuskegee Airmen in mind so my Scout sports a RED TAIL. The Tuskegee Airmen are one of the most highly respected fighter groups of WWI and provided bomber escort–they never lost a bomber. They were denied military leadership roles originally because the belief was that they lacked qualification for combat duty. They fought the system and prejudice. They started in Curtiss P-40 and ended up as P51s escorts. As you know those are tailwheel aircraft. As is my Scout. As is the plane you fly as a member of this unique website/blog. That we women are flying tailwheel aircraft today speaks volumes to the integrity and dedication to aviation and moral justice that these airmen suffered. And, we know from history that black movement augmented the women’s movement. I am forever grateful for their sacrifices. The Dallas Independent School/Board was inexcusably short sighted and failed to realize that women not only fly, we love it, do it well, and we fly tailwheel aircraft. Those 5th grade girls should have been encouraged/allowed to see the film. What a gross error of judgement and misunderstanding of the mission of education. We cannot afford to be silent. Let the Dallas school learn that as women pilots, as women TAILWHEEL PILOTS, we are opposed to their limited, prejudicial, and discriminatingly narrow educational view of females in aviation. I am writing to the board as well. Today. Let them know that LADIES LOVE TAILDRAGGERS and we’re here BECAUSE of the Tuskegee Airmen!

  • Susan
    Posted at 14:34h, 12 February Reply

    It took every ounce of strength I could muster to write a civilized and reasoned email to the Dallas School Board… I may not have accomplished my goal — but they know how I feel. I’ve also forwarded my email and the story to several other news organizations. This is nothing short of a travesty.

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