Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm announced yesterday that she has signed the first bill on the way to allowing single-sex education in Michigan. Senate Bill 1296, signed on Wednesday, changes the state code to allow single-sex schools. Three related bills that have not yet been sent to Granholm for signature include changes in state anti-discrimination and civil rights laws, according to the AP.
Title IX, the landmark legislation included in the 1972 Education Amendments, requires non-discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities receiving federal assistance. It does allow exceptions for single-sex education if it can be proven that a single-sex school, classroom, or program actually decreases sex discrimination. As written, the Michigan bills do not include any measures to ensure that girls and boys receive “separate but equal” educations. Without safeguards and review procedures, there will be no accountability to ensure that sex-segregated education in Michigan is necessary and beneficial.
The Feminist Majority, along with the National Organization for Women, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the American Association of University Women, oppose the weakening of Michigan’s civil rights laws to allow sex-segregated public education. Such developments are reminiscent of segregation-era classrooms in which “separate but equal” was never a reality.