In Vermilion Parish, Louisiana, the school board announced that it will end a middle school program that segregates classes by sex for at least the next five years. Galen Sherwin, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Women’s Rights Project, stated, “The Vermilion program was one of many across the country that relied on the outdated and discredited notion that boys and girls are so different that they need to be taught differently. This should send a message to other schools that this type of experiment is not worth the risk. If we really want to help our kids, we should invest in policies that are known to work, like smaller classes, greater parental involvement and more attention to curriculum content. Co-education is not the problem, and sex segregation is not the solution.”
In June, the Vermilion Parish school board voted unanimously to end a program at Rene Rost Middle School (RRMS) that separated girls and boys in core curriculum classes. The school board announced that because not enough parents had enrolled their children in single-sex classes, it would discontinue the program. The school board’s decision came just as the ACLU was about to file with the District Court to suspend the program on the grounds that RRMS lacked adequate justification for segregating students by sex and violated Title IX, a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all levels of education.
The Feminist Majority Foundation is currently working to rescind the 2006 Bush-era Title IX regulations that make it significantly easier to allow single-sex classrooms in public schools. Research studies indicate that such rigid separation of sexes leads to sex discrimination and sex stereotyping to the detriment of academic learning. Even the Bush administration’s examination of academic performance studies found the results to be “equivocal.”
ACLU 10/13/11; Feminist Daily Newswire 6/14/11, 6/7/11
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