The Family Room The Family Room Blog Home

Single-sex education is on the rise

Classes at an Alabama middle school come under fire by ACLU.

By Charyn Pfeuffer - MSN Living Editor Dec 10, 2012 11:00PM

In the mid-1990s, there were only two single-sex public schools in the U.S. Today, there are more than 500 public schools in 40 states that offer some single-sex academic classes or, more rarely, are entirely single sex, reports The New York Times.

Photo: Thinkstock/Getty ImagesThe topic of single-sex education is a controversial one as educators argue whether forcing students into a single-sex environment boosts academic success.

More on MSN Living: 51 perfect family day trips

Recently, single-sex programs at Huffman Middle School in Birmingham, Ala., as well as at another district in Idaho have come under fire by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), reports AL.com. Complaints filed by the nonpartisan non-profit organization with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights say such programs draw on gender stereotypes, such as men are active and independent while women are passive and dependent, and deprive students of equal educational opportunities.

"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," Christina Brandt-Young, attorney with the ACLU Women's Rights Project was quoted. "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."

More on MSN Living: Top names for the top 10 dog breeds

In a September 2011 article in Science, titled “The Pseudoscience of Single-Sex Schooling,” authors argue that “sex-segregated education is deeply misguided and often justified by weak, cherry-picked or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence.” The article, written by eight social scientists who founded the nonprofit American Council for CoEducational School, goes onto assert, “Boys who spend more time with other boys become increasingly aggressive. Similarly, girls who spend more time with other girls become more sex-typed.”

Do boys and girls learn differently? Do same-sex classrooms create a better learning environment for students? Why or why not?

Photo: Thinkstock/Getty Images

Bing: The pros and cons of single-sex schools

More on MSN Living: 
Funny sleeping baby photos
Best baby gear for every mom and dad
7 silly signs you are ready for a baby

Subscribe to The Family Room

Dec 11, 2012 2:32AM
Let's call me Granny...I went to an all girls High School (1957-61) and loved every minute. Yes, that was in the dark ages and even pre Women's Lib.  This was from age 14 -18 a pretty vulnerable age for both boys and girls.  Not having boys in the classroom gave me a freedom from both judgement and gawking and allowed me to relax and be myself.  I never had to think about what the boys might be thinking and after being in a classroom with all girls everyone let their personalities rip.   We had plenty of time spent with the boys (and the all Boys School) from our neighborhoods, at basketball games and weekly dances, after school at the cafe combined fund raising efforts, etc..  It was great to have that element of pubescence become a smaller part of the equation. I felt more sure of who I was, what I needed and wanted  and could discard who I thought I was supposed to be. And ,yes, I think I got a better education because of it. 
Dec 11, 2012 2:24AM

Let the teachers worry about teaching these kids how to adequately read, write and do math instead of defining their abilities by their sex.  Also, kids need to stay kids as long as they can and stop trying to look and act older than they are.  Parents need to educate their kids so they realize not to emulate celebrities and dress and act sleezy.

total BS--I went to an all male catholic high school in the 70s and the school was known for its academic excellence as well as its football team for instance and fast forward to 2012--The school is ranked in the top 50 schools in the country academically and its football team was ranked number one nationally.It has other awesome teams,scholars and it has very few discipline problems. The article stating that boys are more aggressive if segregated with other boys is utter BS.The boys are only more aggressive when you have weak teachers,lax discipline and uninvolved parents.Face facts and quit blaming things on unproven facts to hide teachers and unions lack of control and competence
Dec 11, 2012 2:18AM
Remember the song, Make The World Go Away.  I believe from the 1960's.  Here is a new take on it  Make the ACLU Go Away.

Dec 11, 2012 2:09AM

Sex-segregation should not exist in the boardroom and should not exist in the classroom. How can we expect students to learn to work together if we keep separating them.


If sex-segregation is acceptable, then some groups will want segregation by race, religion or some other backwards notion. Any form of segregation is a step back for society.


Studies on sex-segregated classes focus so much on the students, they rarely include data on having teachers that are the same sex as the student to avoid prejudicial behavior. This can be very complicated or keep it the way the students need it to be in the real world where we all work together.

Dec 11, 2012 2:06AM
With parents letting their little girls dress with form fitting tops, plunging tops, spandex bottoms showing camel toes, dresses hiked so high the thongs show, it is about time the boys are separated so they can concentrate on studies.  The mothers should be ashamed for allowing their daughters to dress that way.  The other day I saw a 13-14 y.o. with her mother at Staples with shorts so short her cheeks were out of the pants and the seam in her pants was right up her backside crack.  Disgusting !!!!
Dec 11, 2012 2:04AM

Has anyone done a study on teen pregancy at single-sex schools?   Does it decrease?   It's a serious problem that isn't being addressed very well in our schools.


Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

News, stories, tips and laughs for moms & dads

buzzing now on msn living
follow us
follow us follow us on facebook follow us on pinterest follow us on twitter
family videos