Author: benw

Schools Should be Gender-segregated

PRO (4 arguments)


1) “Senators Barbara Mikulski and Kay Bailey Hutchison wrote in the Wall Street Journal in 2012, “To take single-sex education away from students who stand to benefit is unforgivable.”

2) ”Kids need options. Single-gender academies will stimulate competition and give kids opportunities they currently do not have because they are trapped in their schools, and they need another approach.” stated former California Governor Pete Wilson in a conference on gender-segregated schools.



Schools- this just applies to middle schools, high-schools in the US.

Gender-segregated- offer a voluntary single-sex option for students while still providing their coeducational programs as well

Should- this topic is a should topic, therefore we are arguing whether we should or should not hypothetically do this


Weighing Mechanism:

Judge, as the first speaker of this debate, I would like to introduce the weighing mechanism to you so that you can judge this debate based on it. The weighing mechanism of this debate is whether voluntary gender-segregated schools better our students’ educations which will be used throughout their entire lives in order for them to excel in life and allows them to create a better future for this world.



Unconstitutional- The Supreme Court has never applied intermediate scrutiny to elementary and secondary education, though it attempted to do so in 1977, in Vorchheimer v. School District. There, Philadelphia maintained an all-boys school and a separate all-female equivalent, in addition to multiple coed schools; a female plaintiff filed suit against the School District of Philadelphia after being denied admission to the boys’ school. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found in favor of the plaintiff under the Equal Protection Clause, but the U.S Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed because it determined that the school district’s important objective of providing quality education is substantially related to the theory that students perform better in single-sex settings. The U.S. Department of Education delivered guidelines that will, in effect, show how school districts can offer single-sex classrooms without violating Title IX, the landmark 1972 federal legislation that mandated gender equality in all aspects of government-funded education. Also, there are many constitutional cases. According to a Cornell University analysis of Supreme, Circuit, and District Court cases, rulings have made it clear that schools that offer coed options and make it voluntary to attend single-sex classes do not violate any constitutional amendments or Title IX. This is in accordance to the def. we have provided.

Women are better off- The other studies have found that women in fact are not any better off in single-sex institutions. A 1998 survey from the American Association of University Women, a long-time advocate of single-sex education, admitted that girls from such schools did not show any academic improvement. That they are more inclined towards maths and sciences is of questionable importance to society as a whole. As the report noted, "boys and girls both thrive when the elements of good education are there, elements like smaller classes, focused academic curriculum and gender-fair instruction". These can all be present in co-educational schools. Tidball in her research made the mistake of not controlling for other characteristics, namely socio-economic privileges of those at elite women’s colleges.


Lose social skills-  A common misconception is that single-gender schools and classroom students lack social skills towards the opposite sex. In fact, many of these male and female students do participate with each other outside of school, and during breaks in school (Such as lunch or before and after school). Even those that do not converse with the opposite sex do not lack the social skills to, as a male will talk to another male about a girl, and male b will understand, just as a girl may talk to another girl about a boy, and girl b may understand. Stating that all single gender children lack social skills is an assumption rounded by no factual proof. Children will gain exposure to the opposite sex when they reach adult life; whilst they are young, they should be around those who they feel most comfortable with. The inclinations of children in the formative years, between 7 and 15, are to gravitate towards their own sex. What is natural should be encouraged, and can most easily be done so in single-sex institutions. Furthermore, they naturally tend towards behaviour appropriate to their gender. It is therefore easier to implement an education strategy geared specifically towards one gender. Moreover, certain subjects are best taught, both in terms of ease and effectiveness, in single-sex classrooms, such as sex education or gender issues.


Stereotypes caused- Boys in single-sex schools were 2 times as likely to pursue “female” subjects like art and music and girls to pursue “male” computers and physics (University of Virginia 2003)


Girls at single sex schools were more likely to take non-traditional courses, which means that single sex schools break down gender stereotypes by removing the barriers and guidelines set by the opposite sex (National Foundation for Educational Research)

1. The establishment of single-sex academies have proven to have academic benefits.

The reason why academic benefits occur, is because there are much less distractions between students, which allow them to focus on school. This is the main reason for the increase on academic tests.


When a group of researchers at Stetson University compared single-sex and coed classes in a Florida middle school, they documented large gains for both boys and girls — but especially for boys. Over the four years of the study, 55 percent of boys in coed classes scored proficient on the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test), compared with 85 percent of boys in the all-boys classes. For girls, this number was about 60% in coed and 80% in single sex schools. Also, when students were randomly into single-sex and coed classrooms of the same size  and taught the same material only 37% of coed students scored proficient on the state standardized test while 86% of the single-sex students did. According to a study by National Catholic Education Association of schools nationwide, from fifth grade and up, about 45% of boys and 58% of girls in coed schools passed all their courses. However, among those attending single-sex schools, 65% of boys and 76% of girls passed all their courses. Also, according to the Department of Education, across all subjects of math, science, language arts, and social studies/history, there were significant percentile gains in test scores for those students that attended single-sex schools. The female only schools also reported higher graduation rates. In fact, the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School in Chicago reported a 100% graduation rate over the same time period. (year 2010) In a twenty-year Australian study of 270,000 students, Dr. Ken Rowe found that both boys and girls performed between 15 and 22 percentile points higher on standardized tests when they went to separate schools." A 2001 British study of 2954 high schools and 979 primary schools noted that every one of the top fifty elementary schools and top twenty high schools in Britain are single sex.

2. Single-sex academies have significant benefits for students from minority groups.

According to a study by Professor Lea Hubbard of UC San Diego and Amanda Datnow of USC, low teacher expectations have been shown to disadvantage minority students in school classrooms. However, studies have shown that such schools benefit students academically, especially students from low-income and minority backgrounds. Professor Cornelius Riordan of Providence College’s study Single-Gender Schools: Outcomes for African and Hispanic Americans showed that there were significant positive effects for minority African-American and Hispanic students. A study by Dr. Pedro Noguera of New York University’s Metropolitan Center for Urban Education (Standards and Promising Practices for Schools Education Boys of Color), showed that single sex schools were most beneficial to African-American and Latino boys by improving academic engagement, school climate, and out-of-school activities. It also found that student relationships with faculty were improved and that because of this, they were likely to exhibit more academically positive attitudes, which in turn bolsters their academic performance.

3. Gender-segregated schools help cater to boys and girls, who typically learn and develop at different speeds and use different methods.

They do not develop in the same way or at the same time; boys favour visual processing and do not have the hand-motor control that girls readily achieve in early grades. It is widely accepted that boys develop more slowly than girls..that’s true at every level of analysis. Furthermore, they develop physically at different speeds, girls often developing earlier which can lead to bullying from the opposite sex for those who either over-develop or under-develop.


Therefore, it should come as no surprise that, at least in the United States, school boys drop out of high school a third more often than girls. If they were taught separately and the curriculum and teaching was tailored to their needs, drop-out rates would not be so high nor as vastly disproportionate. A 2008 study found that young women in female-only physics classes developed more confidence and interest in the subject than their counterparts in coed classes. In reviewing research on single-sex education, the National Education Association (NEA) noted that, “Girls who learn in all-girl environments are believed to be more comfortable responding to questions and sharing their opinions in class and more likely to explore more ‘nontraditional’ subjects such as math, science, and technology.”

4. Gender-segregated schools help to eliminate many distractions between boys and girls which benefits both of them.

Boys and girls distract each other from their education, especially in adolescence as their sexual and emotional sides develop. Too much time can be spent attempting to impress or even sexually harassing each other (particularly boys toward girls). Academic competition between the sexes is unhealthy and only adds to unhappiness and anxiety among weaker students.


s Tricia Kelleher, the school principal of the Stephen Perse School, argues, ‘rather than girls defining themselves by their interests, they define themselves by what the boys think of them or what other girls think boys think of them’. At the 49ers Academy, in East Palo Alto, California, it was the students who gave the thumbs down to going coed. “They say they feel more comfortable in sex-segregated classrooms," says Heather Turoczi, the school's program director. "The boys don't feel like they need to put on a big show for the girls, and the girls feel like they can strive academically without having to dumb down their abilities."Ilana DeBare, cofounder of the private Julia Morgan School for Girls, in Oakland, California, and the author of Where Girls Come First: The Rise, Fall, and Surprising Revival of Girls' Schools, says that though girls can thrive in coed classrooms at younger ages, once puberty sets in they quickly begin to lose their confidence.

CON (5 arguments)


1) "Given that we are preparing boys and girls to be men and women who work together, it's even more important for boys and girls to learn from each other, to be allowed to complement each other in the classroom," stated Jonathon Kuzol, who wrote Savage Inequalities.

2) “We know from the history of our country that separate is not equal. There’s no reason to divide along the lines of biological sex.” argued Professor Lynn Liben, professor of psychology and education at Penn State.


Alternate Weighing Mechanism:

Judge, as the first speaker of this debate, I would like to introduce a weighing mechanism to you so that you can judge this debate based on it. The weighing mechanism of this debate is whether voluntary gender-segregated schools better our students’ educations which will be used throughout their entire lives in order for them to excel in life.




Better test scores- There is no way to produce accurate results about gender-segregated schools in regard to gender stereotypes as it would require blind assessment and a control of students with zero bias and an equal match between student of the exact same amount of bias to show accurate data. Also, there is no research proving there are academics for single-sex schools all across the board, according to the Department of Education. The results are equivocal. Furthermore, in single sex schools in GB, Canada, Australia, NZ, and ROK, the result is the same: no academic benefits.

Minorities- Though there are some single-sex schools that do produce shining results for minorities, according to the American Council for CoEducational Schooling, these are not because they are single-sex but rather because of the dedication of faculty and the conditions. These same results can be produced through coed schools with similar environments. Furthermore, as a rule, single-sex schools often have longer days and higher standards, things that can backfire against low-income households.

Academic Benefits- See Assertion 4

Different Needs of Genders- This is stereotyping all boys and girls as falling under this category. There are girls who enjoy athletics and computers, often stereotyped as “male” subjects, and boys who like art and reading more than sports, “female” subjects. Single sex schools make things harder for these people as they are forced to mingle with the collective whole that is different from them. Coed schools give children the chance to associate with those they are most comfortable with, be it with the same or opposite gender.

Distractions- In fact boys and girls are a good influence on each other, engendering good behaviour and maturity – particularly as teenage girls usually exhibit greater responsibility than boys of the same age. Academic competition between the sexes is a spur to better performance at school. Any negative effects of co-educational schools have been explained away by studies as the result of other factors, such as ‘classroom size, economic discrepancies and cultural differences’. Allowing them into the same educational environment, in part to permit them to distract each other, is a welcome social development as well as a beneficial learning curve.

1. The formative years of children are the best time to expose them to the company of the other gender, in order that they may learn each others’ behaviour and be better prepared for adult life. This is not achieved through same-sex schools.

The number of subjects benefiting from single-sex discussion is so small that this could easily be organised within a co-educational system. Furthermore, even if girls naturally perform better in an environment without boys, they need to learn how to perform just as well with boys.


Dr. Alan Smithers, a respected British schools expert, declared in a 2006 report that ‘distraction by boys was a myth’ and that ‘half a century of research has not shown any dramatic or consistent advantages for single-sex education for boys or girls’. Those who go to single-sex schools are less likely to be able to interact well with the opposite sex. Research has proved that boys who went to single sex schools as opposed to mixed schools are more likely to get divorced and suffer from depression in their 40’s. This is proof that we should school our children in mixed schools in order to give them the best bill of emotional health. Dr. Diana Leonard, who presented the findings, concluded that ‘Boys learn better when they are with girls and they actually learn to get on better’. 1998 survey from the American Association of University Women, a long-time advocate of single-sex education, admitted that girls from such schools did not in fact show academic improvement. That they are more inclined towards maths and sciences is of questionable importance to society as a whole. As the report noted, "boys and girls both thrive when the elements of good education are there, elements like smaller classes, focused academic curriculum and gender-fair instruction". These can all be present in co-educational schools. Also, while coeducational experiences can be beneficial at every age; however, there are two time periods when teachers’ encouragement of interactions between boys and girls may be particularly beneficial. The first is in preschool, when boys and girls tend to pull apart from each other. The second phase begins in pre-adolescence, when they begin to seek each other out. If boys and girls are removed from coeducational environments at these ages, they lose out on important opportunities to work together and influence each other.

2. There are no proven academic benefits of single-sex schools.

Decades of research from around the world demonstrates no  difference in academic performance between students in single-sex versus coeducational schools. The largest and most 2005 report was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, and concluded, “the results are equivocal.” The same finding – that gender grouping does not significantly affect academic performance – has emerged in large-scale studies from Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. Often, single-sex schools look better at the outset, but once researchers correct for pre-existing differences in academic ability and socioeconomic status between students in the two types of schools, the effects melt away. British researchers Alan Smithers and Pamela Robinson titled their report “The Paradox of Single-sex Education” because so many people believe single-sex schools are better, but there is no scientific evidence to support the claim.

A truly rigorous comparison between single-sex and coeducational schools would require randomized student assignment and blind assessment, neither of which is feasible. Still, enough data are currently available to conclude that single-sex education is not the magic bullet for improving student achievement. Neither girls’ nor boys’ learning automatically benefits, so given its other social and financial costs, gender segregation is unjustifiable.


As it’s proven that there are no academic benefits, there is no justification or acceptable reason to undergo the harms single-sex schools inflict on society and the students.

3. Same-sex schools are unconstitutional.

In the case Garrett v. Board of Education, the US District Court for the the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that the establishment of new single-sex schools violated the Title IX of the Educational Amendments as it stated that it did not give them the authorization to establish new single-sex schools within the school district. Thus, it ordered these proceedings to halt immediately. Another case, Doe v. Wood County Board of Education argues that the mandated sex-segregated education practices of Van Devender Middle School in Parkersburg, West Virginia violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause as well as Title IX.  This standard, as first set out by the Supreme Court in 1976, in Craig v. Boren, requires that any gender classification serve important governmental objectives and be substantially related to the achievement of those objectives in order to be constitutional. Indeed, under this standard, the Court will usually strike down sex-based classifications when the government could achieve its objective through classifications that are sex-neutral. Indeed, very few gender-segregation policies have withstood court scrutiny.

4. Gender-segregated schools promote sexism and gender stereotypes among students.

Also, according to research conducted by Arizona State university professor Richard Fabes in "The Pseudoscience of Single-Sex Schooling," there was a 14% average increase throughout all age groups in the likelihood for a gender stereotypical response per gender segregated class the student attends. If all 8 periods of a typical school day are gender-segregated, then there is a whopping 112% increase in the likelihood for gender-stereotypical actions. This finding suggests that gender segregated classes led to an increase in gender-stereotypic beliefs beyond the student’s initial levels.

According to Lynn S. Liben,  Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Human Development and Family Studies, and Education at Penn State,  in a September 2011 article in the journal Science contends “there is evidence that sex segregation increases gender stereotyping and legitimizes institutional sexism.” Children in single-sex schools had impressions that one gender was superior to the other and tended to deliberately avoid interactions with the opposite sex. Her research has “demonstrated that, when environments label individuals and segregate along some characteristic, children infer that the groups differ in important ways and develop increased intergroup biases. These effects, in particular of gender stereotypes, would be far more powerful in single-sex schools than coed schools.”

This has parallels to the fight against racism. It seems preposterous and unacceptable to divide schools among race like African-American and Latino-only academies. We don’t set students apart based on hair color or height. Yet why must this absurd logic only apply to gender segregation?