Alabama School District to End Single-Sex Classes

Alabama School District to End Single-Sex Classes

November 22, 2011

Robyn Shepherd, ACLU national, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666;
Olivia Turner, ACLU of Alabama, (334) 265-2754

TALLAPOOSA COUNTY, AL – The Tallapoosa County School Board has agreed today to end single-sex classes in its public schools after the American Civil Liberties Union alleged that the programs were illegal and discriminatory. The school board had denied the ACLU’s allegations. As a result of a settlement agreement, single-sex classes will cease at the end of this school year.

“We’re glad the Tallapoosa County School Board was able to bring this matter to a close without the need for a long and costly fight in court,” said Olivia Turner, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. “This is the right outcome for students as well as taxpayers, and everybody involved is very pleased with this result.”

Under the settlement agreement, Councill Middle School, which had maintained single-sex classrooms, will cease segregating students by sex at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year, and no school will institute any sex segregated programs for the next five years. For the following five years, if Tallapoosa County plans to institute new single-sex programs in any school, it must first notify the ACLU before implementing them.

In a letter sent to the school board in August, the ACLU and the ACLU of Alabama warned the Tallapoosa County School System that mandatory single sex classes in public schools violate the U.S. Constitution, Title IX of the Education Amendments and federal regulations.

“While we all want to provide the best educational environment possible, separating boys and girls is not the answer,” said Mie Lewis, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “We are gratified to see schools across the country abandoning sex-segregated classes in favor of strategies that really work, like smaller classes, greater parental involvement and more attention to curriculum content.”

Although the number of sex-segregated classes and schools has ballooned in recent years, especially in the South, mounting evidence suggests that such programs do not improve academic achievement and instead perpetuate sex stereotypes.