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In one classroom, a girl raises her hand to answer a problem.

The teacher calls on her;


her answer is right. After giving a quick nod and an ok, the teacher moves on to the next
question. Next, a boy raises his hand and gives his answer; he is also correct. The teacher
praises him and gives him feedback before moving on. Why was the teachers reaction
different? There are a number of possibilities--perhaps it was a coincidence, or the problem that
the boy answered to was exceptionally hard. But what if it was because of the students gender?
This sort of sexism is one of the main reasons many parents want to send their kids to
single-sex schools, and why some schools would want to adapt this system. Single-sex
education is a method of teaching girls and boys in separate schools or classrooms. It is a
system that was more common in the old days, but it is starting to kick back in for various
schools across the country. Although many schools are tempted to switch to a single-sex
environment, South East Junior High should not switch to a single-sex school because this kind
of environment will not always work for every student, can potentially cause gender
stereotyping, and students who identify as LGBTQ will not be able to attend school anymore.
Whether single-sex or co-ed education works for students depends on each
student. For some people it will work out; for others it wont. In an article called Whats
the Benefit of Single-Sex Education? by Brooke Tasovac, there are three examples of
students who transferred from a co-ed school to a single-sex school, or the other way
around. All three of them had different answers: A female student, who went from
single-sex to co-ed, preferred all-girls school more. A male student, who went from
co-ed to single-sex, liked co-ed better. A female student who went to a single-sex
school suffered from bullying, and when she switched to co-ed, she performed much
better. So whether each type of education will suit South East Junior High students cant
be answered with a yes or no conclusion. In some cases, students will start performing
worse after the change. If the Iowa City School District switches to single-sex education,
where would students who dont fit into to that go to school? In the same article, there is
a quote from Judith Gill, an Associate Professor on gender and education at the
University of South Australia, and author of Beyond the Great Divide: Co-Education or
Single Sex?. There will always be parents who believe their child needs one or the
other school type based on their perception of their childs needs, but its virtually
impossible to generalise, says Judith. Young people are amazingly flexible and can
thrive in lots of different environments whether government or non-government,
private or public, single-sex or co-educational. She also says that the biggest
influences on student outcomes are great commitment from teachers, high-quality
leadership and a highly supportive parent community. The most important factor to
good student performance is not whether the classes are single-sex or co-ed, but how
supportive the school itself is of students and education.

Another reason why I am against South East Junior High become a single-sex
school is that, if not careful, it can also cause gender stereotyping.
For example, Charles R. Drew Elementary School in Miami, Florida, is a school
that offers single-sex classes. In Old Tactic Gets New Use: Public Schools Separate
Girls and Boys, Motoko Rich describes two of their classrooms that are divided by
gender. One has walls with cheetah and zebra prints, pencils and glue sticks stored in
pink caddies, and a poster that says Act pretty at all times! listed as one of the class
rules. The other has pictures of racecars and football players along the walls, and
banner by the teachers desk that says Coaches Corner. The first class is for female
students, the second for males.
Angeline H. Flowers, the principal of this school, says that they recognize the
importance of understanding that Angeline learns differently from Angelo. The teachers
adjust very small detail such as background music based on the students gender--for
example, Michael Jackson for boys and Enigma for girls. But despite the schools state
rating from a D to a C, the guidance issued by the Obama administration says that
evidence of general biological differences is not sufficient to allow teachers to select
different teaching methods or strategies for boys and girls. Catherine E. Lhamon,
assistant secretary for civil rights, also said in an email, I am very concerned that
schools could base educational offerings on stereotypes. No school should be teaching
students to live down to diminished expectations for who they can be. When schools
start to think: What is a good way to teach boys? or, How do girls learn? it is not
impossible for those thoughts to end up in gender stereotypes. There is no significant
evidence that girls and boys learn differently or need to be taught differently, and
separating students by gender can worsen stereotypical thinking.
The final, and most important, point that I want to make is that students who dont
identify as either male or female, or are in the LGBT community, wont have a place to go.
Based on four recent national surveys and two state-level surveys, the Williams Institute says
that approximately 3.5% of the adult population identifies as LGBT. Assuming that this is true to
teens as well, this means that about 3.5% of the students at South East Junior High wouldnt be
able to go to school anymore. It is not that single-sex education is better or worse than co-ed,
but it is that if South East Junior High became a single-sex school, those who dont apply as a
girl or a boy wont have a school they could go to, except to move or transfer to a different
school.
True, girls tend to perform better in male-dominated subjects such as math and science
in single-sex schools. There is also evidence that teachers treat girls and boys with bias in some
schools, with cases where girls were at a disadvantage, or boys were. But this cannot be used
as a reason to switch to single-sex education. Rebecca Bigler, a psychologist at the University
of Texas, said: You say theres a problem with sexism, and instead of addressing the sexism,
you just remove one sex. In other words, just switching to a single-sex school doesnt solve
anything; it would just be an attempt to hide the problem altogether. In this case, where girls and
boys were treated unequally, the true solution would be to teach the teachers how to treat
students equally, and not to split the classroom into two.
Single-sex education can be beneficial for some students, but not all, and there are
students who dont identify simply as male or female. To switch to a single-sex environment
means to shut out these kinds of students, depriving them of school. If we are not careful, it can
also trigger gender stereotyping. In order to truly solve the problem of sexism or stereotypes, we
need to face it, not getting rid of one sex to try to ignore that its there. Because of these
reasons, South East Junior High should not switch to a single-sex school, and instead should be
open to every student and provide opportunities for everyone.