Sex Segregated Public Education Is Increasing, But It Can Be Stopped

Last month, the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) released “Tracking Deliberate Sex Segregation in K-12 Public Schools,” its third multi-year  report based mainly on 2013-14 data from the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). The report found and named 794 public coed U.S. schools that reported having single-sex academic classes and 75 all-girl and 58 all-boy public schools.

Title IX was signed June 23, 1972 almost 46 years ago to prohibit sex discrimination—including most sex segregation—in education programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. Yet FMF has found that deliberate sex segregated public K-12 education has increased since 2007.

In fact, shortly after FMF’s most recent report was completed, the U.S. Department of Education (ED), released their 2015-2016 CRDC data. In that data, FMF found the names of over 500 additional public coed schools that reported having single-sex academic classes with especially large increases in Nevada and Tennessee. FMF also identified nine additional all- girl and twelve additional all-boy public schools.

FMF found that most of the sex segregation was in schools with high proportions of low income Black and Latinx students. This troubling reality is compounded by the fact that 64 years after the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, America’s public schools are more racially segregated than ever.

The FMF report and webpage on sex segregation document how deliberate K-12 single-sex instruction is educationally unsound, economically wasteful, and often unlawful.

Under the Bush administration, the ED released 2006 regulations weakening Title IX prohibitions on single-sex education. But in December 2014, the ED Office for Civil Rights provided clarifying Q&A guidance on justifications that schools need to show that their single-sex education is not discriminatory. These 2014 Questions and Answers on Title IX and Single-Sex Elementary and Secondary Classes and Extracurricular Activities  are meant to be used to adequately justify that any allowable single-sex public education does not increase sex stereotyping and sex discrimination. This guidance also reminds schools that they should publish information on their single-sex activities as well as their evaluations and justifications on their school websites and that any of this deliberate single-sex education should be approved by Title IX Coordinators and other officials.

The FMF report found some good news. Working with Title IX experts in South Carolina and Washington state education agencies, FMF learned that in these two states many of the named schools that had reported single-sex academic classes did not in fact have them and had misreported.  What’s more, many of these schools that did have single-sex academic classes did not have plans to continue them.

Thus, to reduce the numbers of sex discriminatory sex segregated programs in K-12 public schools, FMF recommends that Title IX Coordinators  and other gender equity advocates check the current status, policies, and for any plans of schools that indicate allowing single-sex classes. Lists of the public K-12 schools with single-sex classes by state are included in the 2018 FMF report and the updates from the 2015-16 CRDC responses for each state are available from FMF’s Education Equality Program.

Please share verification findings as well as information on additional public K-12 schools with sex segregation with Dr. Sue Klein, Director of this FMF program. If your child attends a single-sex public school or a public school with sex separated classes, please also share your information with the American Civil Liberties Union by using their excellent response form.

The Local Education Agency responses in the 2015-16 CRDC provide the most recent national contact information on school district Title IX Coordinators and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) is planning to include more recent information on finding Title IX Coordinators in their interactive search tool.  However, in many cases these district and school-based Title IX Coordinators need help from other gender equity activists including reminding them that intentional sex segregated public education is rarely legally, educationally, or economically justifiable.

Media Resources: Feminist Majority Foundation Education Equality Web Page;  2014 Single-Sex Guidance from OCR; American Civil Liberties Union;  Teach Kids, Not Stereotypes; Civil Rights Data Collection

Contact: Dr. Sue Klein FMF Education Equity Director,


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