Re: Single Sex Schooling

Deborah Brake (
Tue, 21 Apr 1998 12:11:00 -0700

Linda Purrington wrote:
> The following questions are addressed to any/all of the discussion
> leaders and audience (and thank you for taking the time to address this
> issue!):
> 1. What is the rationale for different provisions under Title IX for
> K-12 and postsecondary education? (Gray's material not clear to me--or
> maybe it's a gray area.)
> 2. Should public policy for education in a representative democracy
> reflect the rights and responsibilities of a citizen who will be
> functioning in a coed work and civic world (and why or why not)?
> 3.Could the single-sex academies (or their host agency) be charged with
> violating the U.S. Constitution (which is, obviously stronger than Title
> IX)? could they be charged with violating Title IX? Who would the
> plaintiff need to be, in order to have standing? Could that plaintiff be
> a class or set of disadvantaged students? (Any volunteers?)
> 4. Is the effect of the California single-sex academies (hereafter I
> suggest calling them the CASSAs) to compensate women for educational
> discrimination? (What criteria would serve as proof?)
> 5.Must the burden of proof be tested by a lawsuit, or is some judicial
> compliance review process available?
> 6. Does removing boys from campuses remedy past or present
> discrimination for girls as a class (set)? (Hey, an idea! :)
> Linda Purrington
> Title IX Advocates
Hi Linda! Thanks for your E-mail. I will take on question 3 about
challenges to single-sex academies.

Single-sex academies can certainly be challenged under the Constitution.
In fact, since Title IX exempts historically single-sex undergraduate
institutions and exempts admissions for elementary/secondary schools and
U.S. military academies, any such challenge would have to be brought
under the Constitution and not Title IX. That's why the VMI case was
brought under the Constitution and not Title IX.

(By the way, I'm not so sure that it's obvious that the Constitution is
stronger than Title IX; Title IX bars all single-sex classes (with few
exceptions for contact sport activities in p.e. classes, sex education
and choirs) unless they are designed to compensate for particular
sex-based disadvantages, which OCR interprets as incorporating the
constitutional standard for judging affirmative action).

To bring a constitutional challenge to such academies, you would have to
have a plaintiff who wanted to enroll but was denied access because of
her or his sex (e.g., like Shannon Faulkner in the Citadel case), or the
Department of Justice could bring the case on behalf of persons denied
access, as they did in VMI. (In VMI, DOJ had received 300 and some
letters of inquiry by female students interested in attending VMI, and
brought suit on behalf of all women denied access to that institution.)

Hope that answers your question!
Deborah Brake

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