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Alabama public school separates boys and girls for all classes. The ACLU has a problem with this

Posted by on Dec. 11, 2012 at 8:33 AM
  • 50 Replies

 HMS.jpegMarie Leech | mleech@al.com

The American Civil Liberties Union is asking the U.S. Department of Education to investigate what it calls "unlawful" single-sex education programs in Birmingham's Huffman Middle School and another district in Idaho.

The ACLU filed complaints with the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, saying the programs appear to violate federal law by forcing students into a single-sex environment with little or no alternative options, rely on harmful gender stereotypes and deprive students of equal educational opportunities merely because of their sex.

"We understand that teachers and parents want to provide the best education for their children. But coeducation was never the problem with failing schools, and single-sex programs are not the answer," said Christina Brandt-Young, attorney with the ACLU Women's Rights Project. "These programs are poorly designed and based on pseudoscience and stereotypes that do nothing to enhance learning, and only reinforce discredited ideas about how boys and girls behave."

The single-sex program at Huffman Middle School has been in place since 2010 and students who wish to be in coeducational classes must transfer to another school. Huffman students are separated by sex for all classes, even during lunch.

According to the complaint filed by the ACLU, instructions for teaching boys call for stressing heroic behavior that shows what it means to "be a man." According to the ACLU, the school relied on a book that teaches that boys are better than girls in math because their bodies receive daily surges of testosterone, while girls have similar skills only a few days per month when they experience increased estrogen during the menstrual cycle.

"Every individual child learns differently, and no child should be forced to conform to one theory of how he or she should learn," said Olivia Turner, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. "Assuming that boys and girls learn according to their hormones is just an old-fashioned stereotype."

Efforts to reach the principal of Huffman Middle School have been unsuccessful this morning. Birmingham Superintendent Craig Witherspoon referred all questions to the district's general counsel, who could not be reached for comment this morning.

In Middleton, the single-sex program has been in place since 2006. In its complaint, the ACLU claims the program draws on stereotypes that men are active and independent while women are passive and dependent because the boys' day includes exercise and movement, while the girls are provided with a "quieter environment."

According to research conducted by the ACLU, boys there are seated shoulder-to-shoulder while girls are seated face-to-face on the theory that girls are more cooperative while boys are more competitive and should not be forced to make eye contact.

The program calls for "large amounts of explanation for assignments" for girls and "limited teacher explanation" for boys, the ACLU claims.

"The pervasive and unfounded idea that boys and girls learn so differently that every detail down to the temperature and the light in the classroom should be dictated by sex is ridiculous," said Monica Hopkins, executive director of the ACLU of Idaho, in a statement. "These programs have not made a bit of difference academically to the students of Middleton, but have supported archaic ideas of what is considered 'normal' for boys and girls."

by on Dec. 11, 2012 at 8:33 AM
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Replies (1-10):
catrig
by Member on Dec. 11, 2012 at 8:37 AM
That makes me angry. So very angry.
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romalove
by Roma on Dec. 11, 2012 at 8:37 AM

It's not even separate but equal but separate and unequal?

Oy

meriana
by Platinum Member on Dec. 11, 2012 at 9:28 AM

That's beyond rediculous. I do think it would be nice, though, if students had the option of either co-ed or single sex classes when it come to P.E.

Ms.KitKat
by Platinum Member on Dec. 11, 2012 at 9:37 AM
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 I actually like the idea of single sex schools- most especially for the middle and high school years. It gets the students to focus on academics while in school. And dating and sex occurs outside the 4 walls of school. My neice and nephew each went to single sex middle and high schools and it was an enriching experience for each of them. Students are forced to assume all "roles"  when in single sex school. Girls get to be leaders and not defer to their male classmates; boys get to participate in the arts and not defer to their female classmates.

I myself went to a women's college. It was very empowering.

candlegal
by Judy on Dec. 11, 2012 at 9:46 AM
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I actually agree with you on this.  There is a first time for everything   :)

Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 I actually like the idea of single sex schools- most especially for the middle and high school years. It gets the students to focus on academics while in school. And dating and sex occurs outside the 4 walls of school. My neice and nephew each went to single sex middle and high schools and it was an enriching experience for each of them. Students are forced to assume all "roles"  when in single sex school. Girls get to be leaders and not defer to their male classmates; boys get to participate in the arts and not defer to their female classmates.

I myself went to a women's college. It was very empowering.


Erinelizz
by Bronze Member on Dec. 11, 2012 at 9:49 AM
Well they do have a point. Boys and girls do learn differently. Just like some girls learn different than other girls and some boys learn differently than other boys. That's why teachers learn how to differentiate instruction in their classroom....no two children are exactly alike!

I'm not even going to address the idea of preventing "eye contact" between boys, and girls not being able to learn math as easily. Wow.
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olivejuice2
by Member on Dec. 11, 2012 at 9:52 AM
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I don't have a problem with single sex classes or schools in theory, but the reasons and methods these schools use are ridiculous and even harmful. There has been at least one study that shows the idea that boys are better at math than girls is bs and girls do well in math in an environment that encourages them to do well in math. When girls are told that girls don't do as well in math as boys, girls math score drop immediately. The theory behind this method teaches and reinforces the assinine idea that women and girls are incapable of intelligent rational thought because they are at the mercy of wildly fluctuating hormones that turn nice girls crazy and smart girls dumb.

This kind of sexist learning environment could actually be harming the children.
frogbender
by Captain Underpants on Dec. 11, 2012 at 9:55 AM
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According to the complaint filed by the ACLU, instructions for teaching boys call for stressing heroic behavior that shows what it means to "be a man." According to the ACLU, the school relied on a book that teaches that boys are better than girls in math because their bodies receive daily surges of testosterone, while girls have similar skills only a few days per month when they experience increased estrogen during the menstrual cycle.

In Middleton, the single-sex program has been in place since 2006. In its complaint, the ACLU claims the program draws on stereotypes that men are active and independent while women are passive and dependent because the boys' day includes exercise and movement, while the girls are provided with a "quieter environment."

According to research conducted by the ACLU, boys there are seated shoulder-to-shoulder while girls are seated face-to-face on the theory that girls are more cooperative while boys are more competitive and should not be forced to make eye contact.

You have got to be fucking kidding me. Women are passive and dependent, eh? Holy shit. 

GLWerth
by Gina on Dec. 11, 2012 at 9:59 AM

Yeah, not OK.

I wonder if they realize that boys and girls become women and men and have to interact and even compete in the real world.

radioheid
by Libertarian on Dec. 11, 2012 at 10:00 AM

 I thought we struck down "separate but equal" several decades ago...

If it isn't ok segregating the races, why is it ok segregating the genders? I get using different bathrooms and locker rooms, but different classrooms and lunchrooms? And to parrot another poster, this isn't even an instance of "separate but equal"---it is "separate and UNequal", admittedly.

I would have done poorly in one of these classes. I personally HATE eye contact (always have), HATE working exclusively with girls/women, and I have always been competitive and aggressive. This would have been an extremely miserable experience for me, and since my parents were extremely poor, moving wouldn't have been an option for us, so I would have been stuck there.

How very awful. I hope the ACLU is successful.


"Roger that. Over."

R   A   D    I    O    H    E    I    D

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