Re: Single Sex Schooling

Deborah Brake (
Wed, 22 Apr 1998 14:25:27 -0700

Dorothy Young wrote:
> H. Fubrow had many interesting things to say, and I think we should
> listen to her. She is in a unique position to tell us what is really
> happening now, especially to young people who are neither white mor
> female. Among other things, she said:
> << Let's dispense with sexist wise cracks, and understand that we are
> dealing with the lives and spirits of small human beings. >> =
> I, too, am offended by the sexist wisecracks, and the general tone of
> some who seem to feel that it is only females who are danger here.
> I am not a professional, and was attracted to this conference to try to
> find out what Title IX if really all about. It seems to me that the only=
> real achievement after all of these years is that there are more women in=
> sports. Even so, there are still colleges and universities which are
> avoiding their responsibility in this area.
> I was appalled when I read that Title IX prevented the establishment of
> the all-male high school for black teenagers in Detroit. I was again
> appalled when I heard that the all-girl high school in Harlem was in
> danger, and was being sued by NOW and the ACLU. When does common sense
> take over? =
> In each case the reasons were fully explained, they were supported by
> the parents who saw these schools as a way to save their children. But
> somehow the language of Title IX got in the way! Time to change to
> language? In the meantime, young people are not being served in ways
> that could really help them. They don't have the luxury of time.
> Does Title IX recognize Charter Schools as an exception? =
> Are Governor Wilson's same-sex classes in California going to run into
> trouble with the law? I certainly hope not. These are students who
> would otherwise be channeled into an "Alternative High School." For
> many and diverse reasons, there are students who are unable to attend
> and/or compete in a regular high school. This is a demonstration
> project, funded for three years, I believe. Though I am not ususally in
> accord with our Governor, I believe he may have hit a home run here. He
> has my full support in this demonstration. Sometimes parents do know
> more than a bureaucrat in the education system, and they need to be
> listened to! That's why Charter Schools are taking off wherever they
> are allowed. That's why Vouchers are being supported by more and more
> parents. =

I want to take a moment to respond to your views on Title IX as it
relates to single-sex schools, and in particular, the Detroit all-male
school and the Harlem school for girls. Starting with the Detroit
school, it is important to note that the school was found to be illegal
not just under Title IX, but also under the U.S. Constitution's equal
protection clause. Under both Title IX and the Constitution, the school
was found to be illegal for the following reasons:
(1) there was NO equivalent program created for Detroit's inner city
girls, even though the evidence in the record showed that Detroit's
school system was failing them too. Some of the problems were different
-- teen pregnancy and dropping out, as opposed to violence and drugs,
but the educational needs of the girls were not addressed in any similar
(2) while it was clear that the inner city boys were disadvantaged,
there was no evidence to suggest that the presence of girls in the
classroom was any part of the problem. In fact, the court noted, if the
all-male magnet school succeeded it would probably be because of the
smaller class sizes, the attractive curriculum and the positive
mentoring program (all of which differentiated the school from the
opportunities in Detroit's coeducational system), yet if the school
succeeded, people would wrongly attribute its success to the absence of
girls, thereby wrongly viewing girls as the problem.

Both of these reasons were important to the court's resolution of the
case, both under Title IX and the Constitution. Many of the features of
the all-male school were very positive -- smaller class sizes and
menotoring programs especially. Unfortunately, Detroit chose to make
those benefits available only to males.

As for the Harlem school for girls, it remains to be seen how Title IX
will apply to it. It may be that the school can be justified if it can
be shown that the single-sex aspect of the program is designed to remedy
specific sex-based disadvantages facing the girls who will benefit from
it. In all such cases, schools must comply with both Title IX and the

Deborah Brake

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