Wisconsin Middle School Segregates Sexes Because Boys Need To Hit Things And Girls Suck At Math

92577285The ACLU has asked the Federal Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education to investigate a middle school in Wisconsin for segregating classes and promoting gender inequality.

The ACLU alleges the school uses different teaching techniques for girls and boys. They also allege that the segregation is not voluntary, but mandatory:

Records show that the school uses different teaching methods for boys and girls and separates the majority of its students into single-sex homerooms. It also separates boys and girls in all core subjects, as well as extracurricular activities and non-academic periods such as lunch and recess.

The ACLU insists they school has provided no evidence to show that these decisions are producing any beneficial educational results. From the ACLU press release:

Instead, Somerset Middle School’s program promotes impermissible, overly broad stereotypes concerning the interests and abilities of boys and girls. The school presented materials outlining numerous purported differences between boys and girls, including the following claims:

·       Girls and boys are “genetically programmed” to learn differently

·       “Girls and guys notice different things (boys: motion; girls: bright colors and people)”

·       “Girls are more easily distracted than boys and prefer quiet and focus”

·       “Girls hear better”

·       “Boys are messy”

·       “Teams work for boys as boys value team affiliation above friendship”

·       “Adulthood in terms of brain development is age 22 for females and age 30 for males”

·       “Girls draw nouns. Boys draw verbs”

Wow. This is a huge crock, isn’t it? How long has this school been getting away with this?

The programs are based on the teachings of two proponents of sex-segregated education. Both of their ideas are thoroughly outdated, filled with stereotypes and frankly, ridiculous. Dr. Leonard Sax believes “boys who like to read, do not enjoy contact sports and do not have many close male friends should be firmly disciplined, required to spend time with ‘normal males’ and forced to play sports.” Author Michael Gurian believes boys are just naturally better at certain subjects and should also been given time during the day to hit things. Not kidding:

Boys are better than girls in math because their bodies receive daily surges of testosterone… Boys are abstract thinkers and so are naturally skilled at subjects such as philosophy and engineering… Boys should be given Nerf baseball bats with which to hit things so they can release tensions during class.

Oh boy. That an entire administration of a school got behind these ideas is pretty disturbing. That parents don’t mind their kids are being taught in such a fashion is disturbing as well.

The ACLU demands that the OCR ”investigate and enforce federal laws that prohibit discrimination based on sex in schools and ensure that the sex-separation program is discontinued.”

Hear, hear!

(photo: Getty Images)

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  • Mila

    Holy balls.

  • CMJ
  • LiteBrite

    I’m also wondering how long this has been going on and why it seems to be accepted. I mean, this is seriously effed up.

    Then again, this town is in northern Wisconsin, so I don’t know why I’m surprised. Those people aren’t streaming video with full bandwidth if you know what I mean.

    • Ginny

      As a person from Wisconsin, I think we can agree to disagree on that one ;)

    • LiteBrite

      Actually I’m from Wisconsin too. Just not the northern part. :)

    • Natasha B

      I was all ‘wtf kinda people think that’s ok?!’ Then….oh, its Wisconsin. Makes sense.

  • Rachel Sea

    Clearly someone took issue, or the ACLU wouldn’t be involved. I wouldn’t be too surprised if the administration has told parents that sex-segregation is just to avoid distraction, that’s a common (bullshit) argument for it. The administrators who made these decisions should not be allowed to work with children. Or people with genders.

  • aCongaLine

    This is horrible. If this was mandated in a school I taught in, I would quit. LIFE is not segregated by sex. Education shouldn’t be- at least, not for these asinine reasons.

  • Alicia Kiner

    Did this school/district have a high number of teen pregnancies or something that they want to keep the kids separate all the time?! Oh, and someone better tell my daughter that girls aren’t good at math. She does my 4th grade son’s homework too, and she’s in 2nd grade.

  • pixie

    You mean this ISN’T an episode from the Simpsons??? This is actually happening in real life?
    I think I’d like a foam nerd bat to hit things with right now…

  • RayneofCastamere

    “boys who like to read, do not enjoy contact sports and do not have many close male friends should be firmly disciplined, required to spend time with ‘normal males’ and forced to play sports.”

    Up yours, “scientist.” Those are my favorite type of guys. “Firmly disciplined.” For what? For being themselves? For being different?

    I think that, while we’ve made some progress in girls embracing masculine traits, we haven’t made nearly as much progress in teaching boys that it’s OK for them to have feminine traits.

    That middle school is, if things aren’t changed pronto, going to be a breeding ground for sexist and homophobic thought. As if there isn’t way too much of that already.

    • http://www.benwhoski.com/ Benwhoski

      Yeah, that’s the tell there, too. “Girls and boys are genetically predisposed to behave a certain way, and the ones that prove me wrong must be forced to make me right.”

    • RayneofCastamere

      “What? There are people who disprove my bullshit theory by existing? Suppress them!”

      It never occurs to these people that they might be wrong. Like this one “doctor” from the medieval era who believed that it was impossible for women to have clitori (clitorises? I’m gonna call ‘em clitorodes like platypodes) and that the women brought before him who did have them were strange exceptions. Some people WILL NOT accept the possibility that they could be wrong, no matter how much damage they cause.

    • Roberta

      They weren’t just exceptions. They had to have surgeries to cut off their “anomalies” so he would be right.
      Now I am mad and need tea.

    • RayneofCastamere

      Andreas Vesalius, that was the doctor’s name. And he was from the 1500s, not the medieval era, my mistake.

    • steampunk

      So I guess my husband did not spend enough time with “normal” males. He loves to read, most of his friends are female and doesn’t know if the Packers are a baseball or football team! That’s why I love him as I am the sports-loving jock in the family.

    • Mystik Spiral

      My boyfriend LOVES reading, cooking, drag queens, and pedicures, just to name a few “girly” things. He had a serious dilemma a couple weeks ago when the Golden Globe red carpet was on at the same time as the Broncos playoff game. Oh, also he works in construction and loves demolishing things.

      Sexist stereotypes can kiss my ass.

    • Psych Student

      That is fantastic!

    • Psych Student

      Now, now, we all know that boys don’t need to be reading. Only girls need to know how to read since they will be raising the children and making the meals from recipes. Boys just need to know how to do all the smart things like math and philosophy and engineering (because *none* of these require reading or anything). We all know that boys will need to do all the important things in life because they are just naturally good at things while girls should just draw pretty pictures all day. *readies noose* *slips around neck*.

  • AP

    What about the few girls who learn “like boys”, or boys who learn “like girls?” Where will they end up?

    Why can’t we learn as individuals, ex: “If you want to use your free time to Quiet Read, you may do so. If you want to use your free time to throw basketballs at the light fixtures, you may also do so.” And if there’s a boy quietly reading in the corner while a girl flings stuff at the ceiling, so be it.

    • keelhaulrose

      They did mention that boys who aren’t “normal” should be forced to be around normal boys, and forced to play sports, because there’s no possible way THAT could devolve into a bullying situation.

  • The Kez

    I would like some time allocated each day in which to hit things.

    • chickadee

      I would like some time allocated each day to Nerf-bat the adults involved in this abomination.

  • SarahJesness

    See, crap like this is a big reason why I’m not a fan of sex-segregated classrooms. There’s no way this kind of “boys and girls are wired SO differently so we should teach them differently!” thinking is going to help more than harm. If you talk about how girls are “naturally” worse at math… You’re only going to make girls worse at math! People, especially kids, are more likely to give up on something if they’re constantly being told that by nature, they won’t ever be good at it anyways. It’s like that Simpsons episode where the school is segregated by gender and the girl’s math class is all “How do numbers make you feeeel?”.

    On that note, it would totally suck to be a non-gender-conforming student at this kind of school.

  • Roberta

    I love hearing the “they won’t get distracted as easily” argument. Because in my kindergarten class, they lose all focus over a lava lamp. Keeping the boys and girls apart won’t do anything but tell them that they are so different they can never associate in anyway other than as potential relationships, not partners or friends or coworkers.

    • CW

      This is a middle school, not a kindergarten class. You obviously haven’t spent a lot of time around hormonal adolescents if you think they aren’t distracted by the presence of the opposite sex.

    • Roberta

      No trust me, I know enough preteens for my lifetime. I am just saying that removing one gender won’t automatically make them focus all of their attention on studying, which is what this group seems to be claiming. It just makes it that much harder for them to adjust to the real world where you have to talk to boys and girls, sometimes at the same time (without teachers!)

    • CW

      My husband attended an all-male Catholic school growing up and he had no difficulty adjusting to a coed college.

  • Williwaw

    This makes me think of that old Saturday Night Live commercial parody (maybe from the mid-1990′s?): “Chess for Girls”.

  • Music Mamma

    I have experience teaching in a single-gender environment. Some of these items to apply but first and foremost it’s up to the teacher to use strategies that are effective for students by developing positive relationships. I’ve met Leonard Sax and the information that he presented to our staff was about developing effective lessons and using some general research about learning styles and how they relate to the brains of children. If he had said that crappola about children being required to spend time with “normal” mates I would have walked out.

  • CW

    Parents have the right to opt-out of the single gender classes, so I fail to see how that is mandatory rather than voluntary.

    As mom to a 6th grade girl, I’d jump at the chance to have her in all-girl classes. Hormonal adolescents learn better without the distractions of the opposite sex.

    • AP

      I can’t think of any worse punishment for me to have been forced to spend all of middle school with only other girls. I couldn’t deal with all the sniping about whose socks were cooler and whose ponytail was wrong.

    • CW

      But you wouldn’t be competing with them for the attention of the cute boys. Most of the girl vs. girl social nastiness in my middle school stemmed from the competition for male attention. Remove the boys, and you remove a lot of the impetus for girls to be mean to each other.

    • Roberta

      Tell that to any girl who graduated from all-girls Catholic school. When they stop laughing, let me know what they tell you.

    • CMJ

      Girls can and will find reasons to be mean to each other – regardless of whether or not there are boys in their classes and/or school.

    • CMJ

      There is a huge difference between a single-sex school and sex-segregation in co-ed schools for pseudo-scientific reasons.

    • Muggle

      Actually being friends with guys helped me a lot in middle school. I even dated one of them at one point and nothing bad happened.

      Out in the Real World genders aren’t segregated (well, except in places like Saudi Arabia). They’ll have to learn how to deal with the opposite sex outside of romantic/sexual contexts at some point, and really middle school is where it starts.

  • Rowan

    I’ve taught both mixed and single-sex classes (aged 11-18, before anyone asks) and, trust me, if kids want to get distracted, they WILL get distracted. The type of the distraction might vary, but the lack of focus is exactly the same.

  • Justme

    First of all – is this a public or private school? I wonder if a private school is allowed more leeway when it comes to stuff like this. I’m not saying it is right, just curious as to how this set-up came to be.

    But I must say, there was one year that myself and a male coach had a HUGE class of mixed 6th grade girls and boys in PE. We decides to split up each day to make classroom management easier. It was amazing the difference in the girls level of performance and participation in PE once the boys were removed. They were more confident, willing to engage in the activity and took on far more leadership roles than the girls who still had PE with the boys.

    • pixie

      As much as I’m a huge advocate for co-ed sports, especially for children, gym class (and health) is one class that I can understand splitting up for those reasons. I never had separate gym classes in elementary school, but once I got to high school it was split up and a lot of the girls weren’t as intimidated to perform well or try spend the entire class time trying to get the attention of one of the guys.

    • Psych Student

      My high school gym classes had similar options after freshman year. There was an aerobics class that only the girls could take and also a weight lifting class that anyone could take. I really liked having a class without guys and one that focused less on sports activities (because I am so not a sport person).

  • mom21

    Brainwashed much?
    Another woman who is raising a generation of men who think “boys will be boys” is a justification for having no self control. Now they can point to school and say “see, we had to be segregated from girls because they are such temptresses. My testosterone makes the word ‘no’ mean yes.”

  • SusannahJoy

    Man, I wish I could’ve hit things with nerd bats during class!

  • Katherine Handcock

    Sigh…I don’t even know where to begin.

    While I do believe there are some tendencies that are SLIGHTLY more noticeable by gender, human beings exist on such big bell curves that there’s bound to be miles and miles of overlap between boys and girls. One of my favourite parenting books I’ve ever purchased is by Michael Thompson, called “It’s A Boy”, which is about boys and development. He does a brilliant job of saying, “Here are some tendencies that you may find exist in your boy. If your boy matches that picture, here are some good strategies that help. If he doesn’t, here are some good strategies for helping him understand that there’s nothing wrong with him and he’s no less a boy because he doesn’t, say, want to play sports.”

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