DENHAM SPRINGS, LA -- The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Louisiana today announced victory in a lawsuit filed on behalf of thirteen-year-old eighth grader Michelle Selden who sought to have the same educational opportunities as boys. The Livingston Parish School Board has agreed to refrain from segregating students on the basis of sex in the coming school year.
"We are relieved school officials have realized they cannot ignore the law and sex segregate classes based on broad gender stereotypes about psychological differences between boys and girls," said Joe Cook, Executive Director, ACLU of Louisiana. "Unfounded notions like 'boys need to practice pursuing and killing prey, while girls need to practice taking care of babies' has no place in our classrooms."
Today's announcement marks an about-face for education at the Southside Junior High School in Livingston Parish. The School Board announced at the end of the school year last May that it planned to immediately halt co-education at the school and instead force children into single-sex classrooms. Today's agreement halts that proposed change in both of the proposed schools--Southside and Westside Junior High School--thus ensuring an equal education for all.
"Today's decision is a huge victory for every affected student," said Emily Martin of the ACLU Women's Rights Project. "Mandatory single sex education and the theories behind it are harmful to girls and boys alike. By reconsidering this proposal the School Board is acting in the best interest of local students."
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.
The agreement was reached one day after the filing of a lawsuit that came on the heels of a demand letter sent last week to Southside officials in the Livingston Parish School District. The letter called for an immediate stop to plans to segregate students on the basis of sex in the coming school year.
The complaint, filed yesterday, is available online at: www.aclu.org/pdfs/womensrights/20060801seldencomplaint.pdf
The ACLU's letter to the school board is available online at www.aclu.org/womensrights/edu/26286lgl20060731.html
A statement from Michelle Selden is online at: www.aclu.org/womensrights/edu/26327res20060802.html
A statement from Darren Selden, Michelle's father is online at:www.aclu.org/womensrights/edu/26328res20060802.html