Busy Boys and Little Ladies









DEC. 4 2014 9:37 AM

Busy Boys and Little Ladies

How fake brain science has supported gender segregation in schools.

By Lise Eliot

This is how learning should be.


Sometimes it’s hard to believe we’re living in the 21st century. Thanks to a tide of distorted “brain-based” education, some 750 public schools around the United States have been segregating boys and girls into single-sex classrooms that sound like the old woodshop and home economics classes of the 1950s.

Consider Middleton, Idaho, where elementary teachers electronically amplify their voices in all-boys’ classrooms but not in girls’ classrooms, based on absurd extrapolations about male-female hearing differences. Middleton teachers also reportedly encourage boys to run and play before exams, whereas girls are led in “calming yoga exercises” based on fabricated differences in their brains’ stress response systems.

Gender segregation has been allowed to flourish for nearly a decade in U.S. public schools. The good news is that the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has finally taken notice, and this week it issued guidelines to prevent schools from using biological differences as a basis for teaching boys and girls differently. The department’s guidance may be the first step toward battling back the gender distortions that have flooded K-12 education for years now.

For instance, the “busy boys and little ladies” title comes from teacher training materials in Florida, a hotbed for single-sex classrooms and whose teachers are mandated by law to receive professional development in gender and education. This doesn’t sound like a bad idea, until you learn that school districts are basing their training on the gender musings of Michael Gurian, a pop psychologist who lacks any training in neuroscience or education. In the Hillsborough district that includes Tampa, nearly $100,000 of taxpayer money has gone to the “Gurian Institute” and other trainers, who advocate blatantly stereotypical practices salted with just enough distorted claims about the brain and hormones to fool teachers into thinking they are scientifically based.

If separate and unequal classrooms sound illegal, it’s because they probably are.

Here’s a typical brain-sex factoid touted byGurian: “Boys come out of the womb with a formatting for non-verbal, spatial, kinesthetic activity on the right side of the brain. In the areas where girls’ brains come out ready to use words, boys’ brains come out ready to move around, kick and jump.”

It all sounds so sensible—right on target with most gender stereotypes and therefore perfect justification for educating boys and girls differently. Except that none of it is true! There is no differential “formatting” of boys’ and girls’ brains, and no difference in the brain areas men and women dedicate to verbal or spatial abilities. Nor doestestosterone—the favorite go-to hormone for Gurian and other gender segregationists—ramp up boys’ math skills or suppress their language development, as teachers in Florida have also heard in their training.

It’s bad enough to see teachers amplifying gender stereotypes, but it’s truly distressing to hear students themselves parrot false beliefs about boys’ and girls’ brains and abilities. In Tampa, a pair of single-sex middle schools, Ferrell and Franklin Academies, actually posts home page videos of girls boasting about their superior frontal lobes and ability to read facial expressions and boys expounding on their brains’ better visual and spatial processing. The implication of girls or boys articulating, respectively, “We’re good at emotion” or “We’re good at spatial processing” is the unspoken, but powerful corollary: “and we’re bad at thinking” or “we’re bad at talking.”

If separate and unequal classrooms sound illegal, it’s because they probably are. The Department of Education’s action was triggered by several complaints, including some filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has challenged single-sex programs in Florida, Texas, and other states. The move is part of the group’s larger “Teach Kids, Not Stereotypes” campaign that urges stronger enforcement of Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.

Title IX regulations expressly forbid single-sex education that is based on “overly broad generalizations about the different talents, capacities, or preferences of either sex.” With its new guidance, the Department of Education appears to finally agree that these pseudoscientific claims about boys’ and girls’ hearing, vision, stress response, and cognitive abilities qualify as “overly broad.” The problem with such generalizations is that there are plenty of boys and girls who don’t conform to them—girls who are very physical or good at math, and boys who are very sensitive or good at reading—and are therefore being marginalized in such environments.

Of course, not all single-sex schools rely on brain sex differences for justification. But as Rebecca Bigler and I wrote earlier in Slate, the very fact of segregation of any type accentuates group differences. In children, especially, research finds that gender segregation exaggerates their beliefs in hardwired, immutable differences between the sexes. So while girls or boys may love their single-sex classes and even feel temporarily empowered in them, the loss of opportunity to work with members of the other sex ultimately fosters a distorted belief in gender difference that restricts all children’s potential.

Considerable research has now proven that single-sex education does not produce better academic outcomes than co-education. Which raises the question: Why have gender segregation at all in K-12 schools? We live in a diverse, pluralistic society, where schools need to better prepare boys and girls to work together, raise families together, and share leadership in the future. Most Americans now abhor racial segregation in schools, and by similar logic, gender segregation seems a poor way forward for today’s young people, especially when justified by pseudoscience.

Lise Eliot is a neuroscientist at the Chicago Medical School of Rosalind Franklin University and author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps—And What We Can Do About ItFollow her on Twitter.



The applicability of Federal civil rights laws to juvenile justice residential facilities.

OCR and the U.S. Department of Justice jointly issued a Dear Colleague Letter concerning the applicability of Federal civil rights laws to juvenile justice residential facilities.



December 8, 2014


Dear Colleague,
Although the overall number of youth involved in the juvenile justice system has been decreasing, there are still more than 60,000 young people in juvenile justice residential facilities in the United States on any given day.1 With the support of grants administered by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), juvenile justice residential facilities provide educational services to hundreds of thousands of students over the course of each year.2
The Departments are committed to working with juvenile justice residential facilities to ensure that all students have equal educational opportunities, while supporting these facilities in preparing these students for successful reentry into their communities, so that they are ready to return to their local schools and graduate, to continue or begin a postsecondary program, or enter employment. As part of these efforts, we write to remind you that the Federal civil rights laws, regulations, and guidance that prohibit race, color, national origin, sex, religion, and disability discrimination against students in traditional public schools also apply to educational services and supports offered or provided to youth in juvenile justice residential facilities.


Read the entire letter at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-residential-facilities-201412.pdf



Feds target ‘sex stereotypes’ in US classrooms

Source: http://thehill.com/regulation/227001-feds-target-sex-stereotypes-in-us-classrooms


By Lydia Wheeler – 12/13/14 10:37 AM EST The Obama administration is moving to outlaw public school curriculum establishing single-sex classrooms, where boys are taught about bikes and girls are quizzed about bracelets.


The Education Department issued guidance this month to clarify George W. Bush-era regulations that expanded the use of gender-specific education.


Groups have increasingly questioned the legality of education policies that have cropped up in the years since the 2006 rule was enacted.


“As we receive increasing inquiries about single-sex offerings we want to be clear what federal law allows: protect civil rights and promote achievement,” Catherine Lhamon, the department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, said in a news release.


Civil rights groups say they hope the guidance will put an end to unproven practices that have been creeping up across the country.


Lara Kaufmann, senior counsel and director of education policy for at-risk students with the National Women’s Law Center, criticized programs that she said rely on “sex stereotypes” and “unfounded theories” that boys and girls are so inherently different that they can’t learn the same way.


The different teaching techniques being employed in core classes at K-12 co-ed schools, advocates say, violate Title IX, a law passed in 1972 requiring general equality for boys and girls in every educational program that receives federal funding.


Disparities, critics say, range from the subject matter taught in classroom to the approach of instructors.


Boys, for instance, are being spoken to more loudly and given more time for exercise in their classes, while girls spend class time sitting quietly and working collaboratively in groups.


The ACLU has filed a total of 10 administrative complaints with the federal Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights since 2012 against schools in Florida, Wisconsin, Idaho and Texas, and sued schools in Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky and West Virginia in 2009 and 2012.


The 2009 case in Louisana was against Vermilion Parish, a middle school that was giving all-girl classes quizzes on bracelets and all-boy classes quizzes on bikes, according to court documents


The school was also accused of assigning all-boys classes to read Where the Red Fern Grows because boys like hunting and dogs, while all-girl classes were assigned to read The Witch of Blackbird Pond because girls prefer love stories.


“If you look at the intention behind Title IX, whatever you may think about the merits of single sex education in theory, I think it’s clear that the form that it’s taken in the majority of these co-ed schools really goes to the heart of what Title IX was designed to prevent, which is the overt different treatment of boys and girls based on generalizations about their capacities and interests,” said Galen Sherwin, a senior staff attorney with ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project.


The new guidance only impacts co-ed public schools, requiring that they identify what objectives they want to achieve by offering single-sex classes, avoid relying on gender stereotypes, and evaluate programs every two years.


But advocates of single-sex education say the new rules will kill a good thing that’s working in some districts.


Woodbridge Middle School in Virginia, said Leonard Sax, founder and executive director of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education, is going to be one of the schools affected.


“Principal Skyles Calhoun decided to boost grades and test scores by establishing a dual academy using very different teaching styles and it’s been successful so much so that grades and test scores have soared,” he said. “He will really now have to drop that. It will put him in violation of new federal guidelines.”


Sax admits single sex classes don’t work for everyone, but he said parents who can’t afford tuition to send their kids to a private school should have the option.


“I like to say I’m a proponent for choice in education,” he said. “The single-sex format is good for some kids and not for others.”


Competitive team formats are among the teaching techniques working so well in districts offering single sex classes.


Sax said schools divide boys into two groups and keep score for everything from academics to hallway behavior.


Studies have shown that boys want to compete against friends and girls would rather compete against strangers, he said.


“But that doesn’t work for girls,” Sax said. “If Sonia and Vanessa are best friends and you put them on opposing teams, Sonia doesn’t want to beat Vanessa, but Justin will go out of his way to knock down his friend Jason.”




PowerPoint Presentation – Title IX and Conducting Investigations – Free and online

The 2014 versions of the PowerPoint Presentation on “Title IX Coordinator Training” conducted October 2014 by Neena Chaudhry, Esq. and Lara S. Kaufmann, Esq. of the National Women’s Law Center and Dr. William A. Howe of the Connecticut State Department of Education

… and

The Nuts and Bolts of Writing an Investigation Report  conducted Fall, 2014 by Maree Sneed, Esq. Partner and Esther Haley Walker, Associate at Hogan Lovells US LLP

Are now available on our website.

To reach the site, go to the Connecticut State Department of Education web page at – http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/

  • In the right column marked QuickLinks, go down to the 7th item called Bullying and Harassment, click on that link
  • On the Bullying and Harassment page, near the bottom you will see “Also seeTitle IX Website.”
  • Click on Resources for Title IX Coordinators
  • About half-way down the page you will see:


Title IX Coordinator and Investigations Training


Click on [ppt] to open PowerPoint presentations.


OCR issued Questions and Answers on single-sex elementary and secondary classes and extracurricular activities

Note: Today, OCR issued Questions and Answers on single-sex elementary and secondary classes and extracurricular activities.  The link is http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/faqs-title-ix-single-sex-201412.pdf.  These Questions and Answers address the legal requirements under the Department’s Title IX regulations governing single-sex elementary and secondary classes and extracurricular activities.



From: U.S. Department of Education [mailto:ed.gov@public.govdelivery.com]
Sent: Monday, December 01, 2014 9:17 AM
Subject: Civil Rights Guidance to K-12 Schools on Single-Sex Classes


Dear Colleague:

Today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released guidance for K-12 schools that offer or want to offer single-sex classes. In response to numerous inquiries about the legality of single-sex classes, OCR issued guidance that charts a path for schools on how they can provide boys-only or girls-only instruction while remaining in compliance with civil rights laws.

To offer single-sex classes or extracurricular activities, schools must:

  • Identify an important objective that they seek to achieve by offering a single-sex class (such as improving academic achievement);
  • Demonstrate that the single-sex nature of the class is substantially related to achieving that objective;
  • Ensure that enrollment in the single-sex class is completely voluntary (through an opt-in, rather than an opt-out, process);
  • Offer a substantially equal coed class in the same subject;
  • Offer single-sex classes evenhandedly to male and female students;
  • Conduct periodic evaluations at least every two years to ensure that the classes continue to comply with Title IX;
  • Avoid relying on gender stereotypes;
  • Provide equitable access to single-sex classes to students with disabilities and English language learners; and,
  • Avoid discriminating against faculty members based on gender when assigning educators to single-sex classrooms.

The guidance document is presented in a question-and-answer format, offering common scenarios aimed at assisting schools and educators in designing single-sex programs that comply with Title IX.

For more information about OCR, please click here.

Thank you,

The Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education


Copyright © All Rights Reserved · Green Hope Theme by Sivan & schiy · Proudly powered by WordPress