The American Civil Liberties Union is asking the US Department of Education to look into what it’s calling “unlawful” sex-education programs in Birmingham’s Huffman Middle School and another district in Idaho.
The ACLU’s complaint was filed with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, and alleges that programs set in place at the school violate federal law. According to the ALCU, students are forced into a single-sex environment with little to no alternative options. The courses in question reportedly propagate harmful gender stereotypes, according to Al.com.
Huffman Middle School’s single-sex environment separates boys from girls in all classes, and even during lunch. Students wishing for a co-educational experience are forced to transfer out of the school. The program has been in place since 2010.
Some of the harmful gender stereotypes reported by the ACLU include stressing heroic behavior for boys, and teaching them what it means to “be a man.” Boys are also taught that they are better at math than girls because of testosterone. Women only show those skills for a few days out of each month during the menstrual cycle when they get an uptick in testosterone.
Girls also require “larger amounts of explanation for assignments” while boys require little.
“Every individual child learns differently, and no child should be forced to conform to one theory of how he or she should learn,” said Olivia Turner, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. “Assuming that boys and girls learn according to their hormones is just an old-fashioned stereotype.”
“The pervasive and unfounded idea that boys and girls learn so differently that every detail down to the temperature and the light in the classroom should be dictated by sex is ridiculous,” said Monica Hopkins, executive director of the ACLU of Idaho, in a statement. “These programs have not made a bit of difference academically to the students of Middleton, but have supported archaic ideas of what is considered ‘normal’ for boys and girls.”
What do you think of single-sex practices? Do they enhance “archaic ideas” and gender stereotypes, or does the idea of keeping boys and girls separate in the classroom have some merit?