Title IX at 40 Highlights Dangers of Single-Sex Education

The National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education (NCWGE) released a report on Monday, Title IX at 40: Working to Ensure Gender Equity in Education. The report notes progress for girls and women in athletics and college attainment, but it also identifies continued major inequities for males and females in career and technical education, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and pregnant and parenting programs. The NCWGE releases an update of this report every five years.

Other chapters describe how Title IX guidance from the U.S Department of Education (ED) has been both strengthened and weakened. On the positive side, ED guidance on how Title IX can be used to stop sexual harassment as it discriminates against boys and girls has been helpful. But in 2006 the Bush ED weakened Title IX prohibitions against single sex education, as reported by the Feminist Majority Foundation. This has contributed to increased sex discrimination and sex stereotyping in over 1000 public K-12 schools. The chapter on Single Sex Education: Fertile Ground for Discrimination describes why the claims in favor of sex segregation are not supported by scientific evidence but instead are based on misinformation about how girls and boys learn. Many single-sex education programs reinforce harmful stereotypes that hurt both boys and girls, such as the stereotype that girls are less skilled in math and science and require quiet classroom environments. Separating students by sex has not been proven to enhance learning or education.

All of the chapters recommend ways the federal government should improve the Title IX infrastructure and support for accountability and educational activities to fully implement the full protections against discrimination in Title IX and the U.S. Constitution. For example, as also described in the NCWGE Title IX at 35, the mandated but frequently neglected Title IX Coordinators at state, local district, and school levels should be encouraged to form networks to work with each and other gender equality experts to deliberately end sex discrimination in publicly supported education.

Interview with Sue Klein, Education Equity Director 6/13/12; NCWGE Report: “Title IX at 35: Beyond the Headlines” 1/08; Feminist Majority Foundation report: “Triumphs of Title IX” 1/07

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