There’s a move afoot to gender segregate public schools in the United States. Actually, it’s already started. No, you read that right:
In 2002, only 11 public schools in the United States had gender-segregated classrooms. As of December 2009, there were more than 550.
The movement is based on the hypothesis that hard-wired differences in the ways that male and female brains develop and function in childhood through adolescence require classrooms in which boys and girls are not only separated by gender, but also taught according to radically different methods.
Where’s their evidence? Oh, they don’t have any. Christ, I don’t even allow gender essentialism on my fucking website. There is absolutely no actual science behind the belief that female and male humans are biologically driven to approach the world and their lives differently, and all sorts of indicators that cultural gender conditioning starts when you’re still in the womb.
Yes, it’s true schools have massive disciplinary problems, and almost anything is worth trying as a solution. I get that. But how can this possibly help with discipline? Even accepting the pro-segregation camp’s suppositions without evidence, what happens when you segregate a bunch of unruly people together in a competitive, confrontational environment? For the answer, visit your local prison and let me know how that’s working out on the discipline front.
Change.org reports that a Kaplan, Louisiana middle school is gender-segregating many of the kids’ courses, on the basis that:
He wrote that boys are “more likely to enjoy argument and lively classroom debate” while “females may be content to simply observe,” requiring a different teaching approach based on gender.
The good news is: the parents wouldn’t have it.
But then the ACLU informed the school gender segregation violated Civil Rights laws going back to 1964, so they’d have to at least offer a coed option. They did – or, more precisely, they lied to delay legal proceedings:
But in fact, there was no real choice. The administration was actually asking parents to choose between sex-segregated classes or pre-existing special education classes that had always been coed. (Curiously, the school principal’s belief in the superiority of sex segregation didn’t extend to students with special education requirements.)
I don’t know where to start on the special education side of this. Isn’t that where we’re assured the most disciplinary problems and poor grades come from? Shouldn’t that be the first place to try out a program like this, if your motive really was to improve discipline and learning? Yes, if that was your motive. Clearly, it’s not, because here’s what the kids in the segregated classes had to look forward to:
The girls’ class was assigned a book about a love triangle, while the boys’ class was assigned a book about hunting. The girls’ book conveys the message that girls who are independent and take risks are rejected by society, and that elopement with a man is the best escape from society’s scorn. The boys’ book, by contrast, conveys the message that boys who are independent and take risks are rewarded with adventure and societal approval.
Is it still paranoia if they really are out to get you?
I know there are a few studies floating around that suggest single-sex schooling produces better grades, but they don’t hold up to scrutiny, and anyone who actually works in education should know more on this topic than I do:
Some studies find the opposite. Many studies show no difference between the two. The U.S. Department of Education recently undertook an extensive review of the data and concluded that the results were “equivocal” – in other words, there is no clear evidence that students are more likely to succeed in single-sex schools.
At the same time it was undertaking this review, the U.S. Department of Education was seeking to change federal rules to allow more schools to segregate students by sex. If the evidence showed sex segregation led to student success, the U.S. Department of Education would likely have been eager to publicize this information as part of this effort. But the evidence did not.
So how can we interpret this move as anything other than a desperate attempt to condition tomorrow’s adults back into the gender roles we’ve worked so hard to make available to all human beings? Why would you want to discourage kids from learning to socialize with the other gender? When you combine this with the choice of books for the girls and boys to study, it’s obvious: so the boys will feel intruded upon when women show up in their workplaces in a few years, and women will be keenly aware they’re not wanted. There can be no other goal for this policy.
Don’t read the comments at Huffington Post. It’s mostly of the why oh why must everything be politically correct variety.