Tuesday, September 22, 2009

ACLU Challenges Sex Segregation in Louisiana School

On behalf of parents of students at Rene A. Rost Middle School in Kaplan, Louisiana, the ACLU has sued the Vermilion Parish School District to challenge the sex-segregated classes there. According to the complaint, the district announced to parents over the summer that their children would be enrolled in sex-segregated classes. When parents who objected pointed out that that mandatory segregation was in violation of law, the district responded that it would replace it with a voluntary plan. However, under the voluntary plan, parents' only option for a coeducational environment was special needs classes (which were, apparently, full). The parents and the ACLU argue that this is still in effect mandatory segregation, as the coed option is not comparable to the single sex classes. They also argue that the single sex classes are not equal to each other, as the plan requires teachers to use different methods for boys and girls such as selecting books that "appeal to boys" for their classes and books that "appeal to girls" for their classes. The complaint maintains that the separate tracks "represent exactly the sort of sex stereotyping and discrimination that Title IX and the Fourteenth Amendment seek to prevent."

The ACLU challenged a similar comprehensive sex segregation at an Alabama middle school last year. The school district ended up agreeing to re-integrate its classrooms and to give the ACLU advance notice of future plans to experiment with single-sex education.