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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

ACLU questions legality of some Florida single-gender school offerings

The ACLU on Monday asked the Florida Department of Education to investigate some of the same-sex education programs offered in schools around the state, suggesting that they might violate federal and state laws.

The request is part of the organization's "Teach Kids, Not Stereotypes" initiative, which is focusing attention on this issue in several states. ACLU officials say that the single-gender programs are based on "discredited science rooted in outdated stereotypes."

“All children in Florida have a right to a quality education, but programs that are based on stereotypes do a disservice to our kids,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida, said in a release. “While single-sex educational programs may be well motivated, they are based on bad science and, in practice, too frequently end up denying educational opportunities by forcing both female and male students to conform to outdated notions about how boys and girls learn and behave.”

The group offered some examples of the programs it is questioning in a letter (attached below) to the FLDOE. Here's an excerpt:

"First, several schools admitted to the DOE that their sex segregated programs are not voluntary, violating the plain language of federal and state law. For example, in the 2010-2011 school year, Highlands Middle School (MS) in Duval County, required students wishing to opt out of its single-sex program to withdraw from the school entirely and enroll in another school. Similarly, in the same year, Bok Academy and Hartridge Elementary School (ES) in Polk County offered no co-ed alternatives nor opt-out options, simply stating that dissenting students must choose another school. At Lake Shore MS in Palm Beach County, where many classes were segregated, the school reported no notice to parents of an opportunity to opt in or out of single-sex, stating only that such a request “would be honored,” if it were made. Finally, in 2010-2011, certain boys in Riverdale ES in Orange County were placed by the school, acting unilaterally, into single-sex classes, and the boys’ parents were only informed after the fact and given the option of removing the boys from those classes."

Both Hernando and Hillsborough school districts have experimented with single-sex education. The ACLU's letter mentioned them in generic statements with specific references in the footnotes.

Have you had experiences with single-gender education? Do you know anyone who was forced into it, or not given the option to enter? Please share your thoughts on the pros and cons of splitting boys from girls in school.

[Last modified: Monday, May 21, 2012 12:34pm]


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