NEW ORLEANS -- The American Civil Liberties Union today released a demand letter sent last week to Southside Junior High School officials in the Livingston Parish School District. The letter called for the immediate stop to plans to segregate students on the basis of sex in the coming school year. "Sex discrimination belongs on the trash heap, not in the classroom," said Joe Cook, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana. "Equal educational opportunity under the law doesn't mean girls count flower petals, while boys learn about heroic behavior and what it means to be a man."
At the end of the school year last May, the parents of current and future students were informed of the school's decision to immediately halt co-education and instead, force the children into single-sex classrooms. The change came without community involvement or an opportunity for parents to participate in the decision making process. With the new policy, students have no choice about a mandatory assignment to sex-segregated classrooms. There is no co-educational option.
The demand letter was sent July 25 by the ACLU and the ACLU of Louisiana in an effort to avoid litigation prior to the start of the school year on August 9. Despite a follow-up call by the ACLU of Louisiana last week, no school official has responded to the communication. The letter states,
"Ensuring equal educational opportunity should be a core principle for every community, and schools must be given the tools necessary to allow all students to succeed, regardless of their gender, race, or background. But sex segregation is not the way to achieve these shared goals. Southside Junior High has achieved a record of success by educating boys and girls together. It should not turn its back on this success."
Mandatory single-sex education has long been decried as creating a divisive system with the potential to harm both boys and girls. The educational theories that promote such a split are too often based on faulty research and radically inaccurate gender stereotypes. Yet despite such programs being declared unlawful, Southside Junior High School has decided to pursue such a course of action.
According to the ACLU, the end result is that children of both sexes will be harmed. "Parents have got to pay attention because their control over their children's education is in jeopardy," said Emily Martin of the ACLU Women's Rights Project. "Mandatory single-sex education is in no one's best interest, least of all the children forced to participate."
If the school district does not comply with the demand letter, the ACLU and the ACLU of Louisiana are prepared to file a lawsuit seeking an immediate halt to the program before the school year begins. The ACLU's letter to the school board is available online at http://www.aclu.org/womensrights/edu/26286lgl20060731.html