New Campaign Against Sex Segregation in Public Schools

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently launched “Teach Kids, Not Stereotypes Campaign,” which calls for the end of unlawful and ineffective sex segregated programs in public schools. This campaign complements an earlier campaign to “Rescind the Bush Administration 2006 Regulation Weakening prohibitions Against Sex Discrimination in Education”. The new ACLU campaign identifies sex discrimination in some of the over 1,000 public-schools with single-sex classes in all but four states identified by a forthcoming Feminist Majority Foundation study of the “State of Public School Sex Segregation in the United States.”

According to the ACLU, sex segregated classes in coed public schools are often inappropriately justified based on false beliefs that boys and girls learn differently and thus need to be taught differently and in sex separated classes. This results in unlawful sex stereotyping that limits opportunities for both girls and boys. For example, advocates of single-sex public education such as Leonard Sax who created the National Association for Single Sex Public Education, say that boys who enjoy reading cannot enjoy participating in sports, and that girls do not perform well under pressure and thus should be taught in a relaxed, non-competitive atmosphere. Despite such non-factual claims, many proponents of single-sex education advise teachers to use these pseudoscience ideas to guide their different instruction of girls and boys. See Single-Sex Education Deemed Ineffective by ACCES Researchers.

Through ACLU’s Campaign to “Teach Kids, Not Stereotypes,” letters have been sent to school districts in Florida, Maine, Virginia, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Alabama demanding that the implementation of single-sex education cease immediately. These letters document how the single-sex education violates the non-discrimination provisions in Title IX, and the U.S. Constitution. The documented violations are based not only on unlawful justifications tied to sex stereotyping, but on lack of evidence of required comparable coed classes and voluntary selection of single-sex classes. Additionally there has been no rigorous scientific evidence which shows that sex segregation is more effective than comparable coeducation in improving student outcomes.

A grass-roots action component of the ACLU Campaign asks parents and others to report on public schools where boys and girls are separated and taught differently, based on their sex.

ACLU 5/21/12; Feminist Daily News Wire 9/26/11

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