Legality of single-sex education

Jo Sanders (
Fri, 20 Feb 1998 10:49:51 -0800 (PST)

This information comes from Pat Campbell, who has extensively studied the
legality of single-sex education:

In response to complaints, the US Office of Civil Rights has ruled that
programs to assign students to classes on the basis of gender are not
allowed under Title IX, even if the assignment is voluntary on the part
of the students. However, they have also ruled that having a coed math
class and a second class targeted for female students but accessible to
all students regardless of sex is allowed. (US GAO, 1996).

The United States General Accounting Office (1996, pp. 6-7) went a step
further, concluding in a report to the US House of Representatives that
restricting enrollment in a public school by sex violated Title IX of
the Education Amendments of 1972, and may also violate the equal
protection clauses of the United States constitution and different state

In a related effort, a recent Supreme Court decision declared that "the
Constitution^Rs equal protection guarantee precludes Virginia from
reserving exclusively to men the unique educational opportunities VMI [a
publicly funded, single-sex male university] affords" (United States Vs
Virginia et al, Nos. 94-1941 and 94-2107, 1997). This decision was
directed toward a public college, but may have implications for public
elementary and secondary schools.

I hope this clarifies some issues.

Jo Sanders

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Jo Sanders
Director, Center for Gender Equity
Washington Research Institute
150 Nickerson Street, Suite 305
Seattle, WA 98109
Phone (206) 285-9317
Fax (206) 285-1523
E-mail <>

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