To celebrate Black History Month, the Dallas school district decided to take its fifth-graders to a screening of the movie Red Tails. The male ones, that is. Because girls can't be fighter pilots, or even learn about them, obviously.
Yes, according to the Dallas News, the district sent 5,700 boys and zero girls to see the movie, which tells the story of all-black World War II squadron the Tuskegee Airmen. The movie was apparently supposed to fit into the fifth-graders' unit on WWII, and lessons before and after were tailored to the film. Girls stayed at school but did have the option to watch Akeelah and the Bee, a perfectly nice movie that has nothing to do with World War II. According to district spokesman Jon Dahlander, the girls didn't get to see Cuba Gooding Jr. and company fight Nazis because "there is only so much available space at the movie theater, so the decision was made for boys to attend the movie."
True, there probably wasn't enough space in a single movie theater for all the fifth-graders in the entire district, but couldn't the kids have gone to the movie in shifts? Or signed up for the movie based on whether or not they were interested? Simply assuming that Red Tails is Not For Girls is especially odd given that our military includes an increasing number of women — like Shawna Rochelle Kimbrell, the Air Force's first black female fighter pilot. Also, it's not like girls are never interested in flying — witness Kimberly Anyadike, who at 15 became the youngest black female pilot to fly across the US. Her safety pilot on that trip was a former Tuskegee Airman, and over the course of her trip she met over 50 members of that famous squadron. So it seems like maybe young girls might appreciate learning about Tuskegee Airmen after all. It also seems like an odd choice to celebrate a month that's supposed to be about equality with a large-scale act of exclusion.