School officials in Lawrence County, Alabama, have agreed to end single-sex classes. The school district reached a settlement after being notified by the American Civil Liberties Union that its sex segregated programs were illegal.
The ACLU and ACLU of Alabama learned of sex-segregation after sending an Open Records Act (ORA) request to the school board in December 2008. The response to this request showed that not only were the students assigned to single-sex classes, but the teachers were encouraged to teach boys and girls differently. For example, teachers might ask boys where they would like to go hunting and ask girls to describe their dream wedding dresses. Upon learning of these policies, the ACLU informed the school district that their mandatory public school sex segregation violates Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments, the Equal Education Opportunities Act, and the US Constitution.
Under the agreement (see PDF), Lawrence County public schools will integrate all classes beginning this fall and they will not implement any single-sex programs for three years. The school district must notify the ACLU of any single-sex programs instituted between 2012 and 2015.
Emily Martin, Deputy Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project said in a press release, “Unfortunately, we’ve seen time and time again that sex segregated classes are inherently unequal and diminish the diversity in public schools that best prepares students for life outside the classroom.” Sex-segregation in schools has been rising since former President Bush issued regulations in 2006 that weakened Title IX prohibitions against sex discrimination in education. The FMF and many other organizations concerned with education equality have called for a rescission (see PDF)of these 2006 changes to the Title IX regulation.