ACLU Asks Alabama School Districts To Disclose Documents On Sex Segregated Programs

December 15, 2008

Sex Segregation In Public Schools Raises Serious Legal Questions, Says Group

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

MONTGOMERY, AL – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Alabama today asked eight Alabama school districts to make public any and all documents relating to sex segregation policies in public schools from the past two years. The request was made under the Alabama Open Records Act.

"There is no reliable evidence that segregating students by sex improves learning by either sex, but what we have seen is that these programs are inherently unequal for both girls and boys," said ACLU of Alabama staff attorney Allison Neal. "We've heard reports of sex segregated programs in public schools across Alabama and want to make sure students are not illegally being shut out of the best educational opportunities available simply because of their sex."

The ACLU sent Open Records Act requests to the following Alabama schools districts: Baldwin County, Chilton County, Dothan City, Fayette County, Huntsville City, Lawrence County, St. Clair County and Wilcox County.

The ACLU charges that sex segregated classes in public schools may violate Title IX of the Education Amendments, the Equal Education Opportunities Act and the U.S. Constitution and that segregation inevitably leads to inequality.

Last May, the ACLU joined and expanded a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education and the Breckinridge County School District in Kentucky on behalf of several families whose children attended a sex segregated public school. The case claims that regulations issued by the Department in 2006 permitting sex segregated classes in public schools violate the Constitution. In Breckinridge County Middle School, the most advanced math class happened to be the all-girls' class, effectively barring boys from attending the best math class in the school.

"We all want better education for our children but segregating students by sex not only causes inequality and discrimination but is also an empty promise for failing schools, distracting from things we know work like more funding, smaller classes and more teacher training," said Emily Martin, Deputy Director of the ACLU Women's Rights Project. "Sex segregated programs don't make public schools like private schools. When private schools offer better opportunities, they do so because of their resources, not because they are single-sex."

Publicity generated around a letter the ACLU sent in November to the Mobile County School System unearthed news of other single sex programs throughout Alabama.

The school districts have 30 days to respond to the ACLU's Open Records Act requests.

Attorneys who worked on the Open Records request include Neal from the ACLU of Alabama and Martin and Lenora Lapidus from the ACLU Women's Rights Project.

The ACLU's Open Records requests are available online at: www.aclu.org/womensrights/edu/38096res20081215.html

More information on the ACLU Women's Rights Project work on sex segregation is available at: www.aclu.org/sexsegregation

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