Somerset Middle School in Somerset, Wis. has been accused of segregating boys and girls based on gender stereotypes, which may violate gender equality laws.
The ACLU of Wisconsin claims that the middle school's use of gender stereotypes is depriving students of an equal education.
“There is no solid evidence supporting the assertions about supposed differences between boys’ and girls’ brains that underlie these programs, and there is absolutely no evidence that teaching boys and girls differently leads to any educational improvements. It’s harmful for schools to promote these types of generalizations about boys and girls," Galen Sherwin, of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, said in a press release.
The ACLU claims that documents obtained via open records laws show the school uses different teaching methods for boys and girls, who are separated into single-sex classrooms. The kids are also segregated by during extracurricular activities, lunch and recess.
According to the ACLU, the school claims “girls hear better,” “boys are messy," “boys value team affiliation above friendship" and "girls are more easily distracted than boys and prefer quiet and focus.”
The ACLU is calling for the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education to investigate.
The school's program is heavily influenced by Dr. Leonard Sax and corporate consultant Michael Gurian, who have advocated for the choice of single sex education.
However, The New York Times reported in 2011 that eight scientists wrote in the journal Science that "sex-segregated education is deeply misguided and often justified by weak, cherry-picked or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence.”
“It’s simply not true that boys and girls learn differently,” the study’s lead author Diane Halper told The New York Times. “Advocates for single-sex education don’t like the parallel with racial segregation, but the parallels are there. We used to believe that the races learned differently, too.”