Yesterday, we learned that the St. Clair County School System in Alabama has agreed to stop sex segregation in public schools. This policy change came after the ACLU told the district that these programs are illegal and discriminatory.
Back in December of last year, the ACLU's Women's Rights Project (WRP) and the ACLU of Alabama sent Open Records Act requests to nine school districts in Alabama requesting information about their sex-segregated programs. One district, the St. Clair County School System, asked the ACLU to testify at a Board of Education meeting on April 20. At that meeting, ACLU of Alabama staff attorney Allison Neal outlined how sex-segregated programs inevitably lead to inequality, and may violate Title IX of the Education Amendments, the Equal Education Opportunities Act and the Constitution.
We received a letter from St. Clair yesterday, stating that it would end the single-sex education program at Odenville Middle School and would no longer offer single-sex education at any other school in the district for the 2009-2010 school year.
We commend St. Clair County for abandoning sex segregation in the coming school year. Especially in a period of tight budgets, it makes sense for school districts to invest their time and money into methods that have been proven to promote student success. While single-sex education is trendy, the evidence supporting its effectiveness just isn't there.
WRP Deputy Director Emily Martin added:
One of the strengths of public schools is the opportunity they provide for students to learn from those different from themselves. When boys and girls learn how to cooperate and compete, they get the best preparation for working together in a coeducational world.
The WRP still has an outstanding lawsuit against a school district in Kentucky for its ongoing sex-segregated classes. You can learn more about this case and our work on sex segregation at www.aclu.org/sexsegregation.