ACLU Requests Georgia School District Disclose Sex Segregation Plans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2008
2:00 PM

CONTACT: ACLU
Maria Archuleta, ACLU national, (212) 519-7808 or (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org
Chara Jackson, ACLU of Georgia, (404) 523-6201

 
ACLU Requests Georgia School District Disclose Sex Segregation Plans
Sex Segregation in Public Schools Is Illegal and Discriminatory, Says ACLU
 

GREENSBORO, GEORGIA - April 7 - In a letter sent today to the Greene County School District, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Georgia requested that the school district make public any and all plans to segregate Greene County schools by sex. The request - made under Georgia's Open Records Act - includes all policies, memoranda, letters, emails, directives, minutes, handbooks, and all other documents in the school district's possession from the past two years addressing sex-segregation.

"Not only are the programs Greene County presented unlawful because they deny boys and girls equal opportunity," said Chara Jackson, Legal Director of the ACLU of Georgia, "but these experimental programs distract much needed time and money from efforts that we know can improve all students' education, such as improved funding, smaller classes, and improved teacher training."

The ACLU's open records request comes less than two weeks after the school district scrapped plans to segregate all of its schools by sex after an outcry by parents who had not received any prior notice of the planned segregation or given or any means to opt out and keep their children in coeducational settings. Despite the outcry, the school district maintains that it will pursue sex-segregated schools and classrooms in the future.

A recent review of existing data by the U.S. Department of Education showed that there is no consistent evidence that segregating students by sex improves learning by either sex. Yet, materials posted on the Greene County Board of Education's and the Greene County School district's website suggest that the District believes sex-segregation addresses supposed learning differences between boys and girls.

"Behind closed doors the Greene County School District made plans to segregate students by sex based on questionable 'brain science' theories that suggest that boys and girls should be treated radically differently," said Emily Martin, Deputy Director of the ACLU Women's Rights Project. "Often these ideas are hyped as new discoveries about brain differences, but they are merely dressed-up versions of very old stereotypes that serve to close down opportunities for both girls and boys. This is exactly why we need to know what Greene County is planning next."

Segregating schools by sex, the ACLU letter warns, deprives students of equal opportunity. The letter also warns that sex-segregated programs are illegal, stating: "The Supreme Court has held that single-sex education cannot be justified by reliance on ‘gender-based developmental differences’ or evidence of male and female 'tendencies.' The promise of the Equal Protection Clause is that individual men and women, and individual boys and girls, will not be forced to conform to generalized understandings of what is essentially 'male' or essentially 'female,' whether those generalizations are accurate on average or not."

The Greene County School District has three business days to respond to the ACLU's Open Records Request.

In addition to the ACLU, organizations that have previously opposed the type of segregation formerly proposed by Greene County include the national NAACP, the National Education Association, and the American Association of University Women.

Attorneys who worked on the open records request include Jackson from the ACLU of Georgia, and Martin, Araceli Martinez-Olguin and Lenora Lapidus from the ACLU Women’s Rights Program.

The ACLU's open records request is available online

More information on the ACLU Women's Rights Project work on sex-segregation is available

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