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LOUISVILLE, KY – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Kentucky today asked a judge to rule without trial that implementing sex-segregated classes in Breckinridge County Middle School is illegal and discriminatory. The summary judgment motion comes in a case filed by the groups in 2008 on behalf of parents and students affected by the classes.
"It is time for the court to take decisive action to end this unconstitutional sex-segregation program," said Ariela Migdal, staff attorney for the ACLU Women's Rights Project. "Excluding students from academic classes based purely on their sex is illegal in our public schools and is based on the unfounded and antiquated idea that boys and girls learn so differently that they need separate classes."
The ACLU argues that Breckinridge County Middle School's sex-segregated classes violate the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the state sex equity law.
"Unproven programs like this detract from efforts that have shown to increase academic performance," said Bill Sharp of the ACLU of Kentucky. "Smaller classes, better teacher training and adequate funding are key indicators of student performance in the classroom. Simply separating students on the basis of gender is not the answer."
The Breckinridge County School District instituted sex-segregated classrooms in its middle school in 2003, training teachers using materials that rely on stereotypes about how boys and girls learn. Although the single-sex program is nominally optional, some parents who would otherwise have preferred that their children benefit from the diversity of a coeducational setting could not remove their children from the same-sex classes without sacrificing the best instruction available for their children.
"My daughters have been denied the chance to learn from their peers, and will not be as prepared for the real world as a result," said Frankie Anthony, a client in the case whose daughters attend Breckinridge County Middle School. "Segregation in any form is wrong, and my daughters should not be assigned to classes based only on their sex."
"It is unfair to deny students access to classes based solely on whether they're boys or girls," said co-counsel Rachel Braunstein of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver, and Jacobson, LLP. "The chance to learn from and work with different people is one of the hallmarks of good education, and students should not be denied that based on their gender."
The case is A.N.A., et al. v. Breckinridge County Board of Education, et al. Attorneys on the case include Migdal, Lenora Lapidus and Naveen Kabir of the ACLU Women's Rights Project; Sharp of the ACLU of Kentucky; and Braunstein, Douglas Flaum and Sarah Jane T.C. Truong of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver, and Jacobson, LLP.
More information on the case can be found at: www.aclu.org/womens-rights/ana-et-al-v-breckinridge-county-board-education-et-al