In Vermillion Parish, Louisiana, the school board voted unanimously to end a program at Rene Rost Middle School (RRMS) that separated girls and boys in core curriculum classes for the past two years. The school board announced that because not enough parents had enrolled their children in single-sex classes, it would discontinue the program. The school board’s decision came just as the ACLU was about to file with the District Court to suspend the program on the grounds that RRMS lacked adequate justification for segregating students by sex and violated Title IX, a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all levels of education.
ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie Esman clarified, “The law is clear that educational opportunities for students cannot be determined by gender without an exceedingly persuasive justification. Just as students may not be divided by race, they must not be forced into sex-segregated classes, because equal opportunity means that all must be treated equally.”
In 2009, the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, the ACLU of Louisiana, and the law firm of Debevoise and Plimpton filed a lawsuit in Vermilion Parish on behalf of two girls placed in sex-segregated classes at Rost against their parents’ wishes. The Feminist Majority Foundation is currently working to rescind the 2006 Bush-era Title IX regulations that make it significantly easier to allow single-sex classrooms in public schools (pdf).