Wisconsin, Don’t Fail Our Kids!

2458666314_786e47a4d6_z“Girls and guys notice different things (boys: motion; girls: bright colors and people).”

No, this isn’t a line found in a science textbook from the ’60s; this is what Somerset Middle School in Somerset, Wisc., used as evidence to support its sex-segregated classrooms. The ACLU has now filed a complaint with the federal Office for Civil Rights against the newly instated program.

After the passage of Title IX in 1972, discrimination in education based on sex became prohibited in federally funded schools. Forty-one years later, public schools across the nation are still trying to slip through the cracks of Title IX, introducing sex-segregated classrooms, homerooms, lunch rooms and even buses. A Feminist Majority report in 2010 found that more than 1,000 public schools segregated at least some of their classes by sex.

How are so many of these schools getting away with sex discrimination? The Department of Education requires schools to report back substantial evidence that the programs are improving the students education. But many of these schools are basing their evidence on pseudoscience that promotes sex discrimination, such as author Michael Gurian’s claims that boys are better at math due to their higher levels of testosterone.

Promoting the idea that boys are genetically wired to excel at one subject over girls, and vice versa, creates detrimental effects for these children. Boys vastly outnumber girls in the career fields of mathematics and science, but studies show that this is not because girls cannot handle these subjects—rather, it’s because of societal attitudes. As a result, women end up in lower-paying jobs and the U.S. economy loses opportunities to gain talented people in the workforce (PDF).

Somerset Middle School also based its sex-segregated classrooms on the work of Dr. Leonard Sax, a physician and psychologist who suggests that boys who do not participate in “normal male” activities should be forced to play sports instead of read. Pushing “normalcy” on a child because of their sex is the epitome of discrimination.

As for scientific research that backs up claims that our brains are gender-wired, neuroscientists have found barely any differences between male and female brains, or found that different learning styles are gender specific. And it seems that sex-segregated programs are creating gender inequality more than anything else. Studies show, for example, that children are less likely to interact with the opposite sex after being gender-segregated—something that can be detrimental in the workplace and life in general.

As for Wisconsin, we can only hope that the ACLU will be successful in fighting the sex-segregated classes. It’s only fair.

To read more about how sex -egregated education is “Failing Our Kids,” see the article of that title in the Fall 2013 issue of Ms. magazine.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Woodleywonderworks via Creative Commons 2.0 

rsz_ms Lindsey O’Brien is currently studying journalism at Ohio University and interning at Ms. Follow her on Twitter.





  1. I’m just amazed at the pseudoscience involved in this. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since the sort of thing happens so often. Yet somehow you would expect better from educators, wouldn’t you think? I wonder how this correlates with teaching creationism.

  2. jerry person says:

    Scott Walker was a state representative and the chairman of the Assembly Corrections Committee, he introduced bills that would privatize state prison operations and that would allow private corrections companies to open prisons in Wisconsin to house inmates from other states. This also allowed outsourcing our Prisoners in several states.
    In 1995 Walker and Prosser as state assemblymen championed for ALEC with truth in sentencing telling the legislatures it would not cost a dime it was to give judges not parole boards the control over sentencing. Then Walker filibustered to stop sentencing changes after the fact misleading ALL the legislatures. With out the sentencing changes Wisconsin`s prisons quadrupled over night. Most people sentenced to 2 years now had to serve as much as 6o years.
    This ended liberty a jusce for ALL in Wisconsin except the rich and powerfull. This destroyed thousands of families , and has made over one million Wisconsin children homeless and father less. The so called Justice system Wisconsin DOJ (JUST US SYSTEM) has ruined generations our youth for personal and agency gain. It has created criminal colleges nothing more. It has made the streets of Wisconsin VERY UNSAFE. Todays police are so worried about he people because of their aggresson on our youth. Citizen revenge or guilty consciences has created one of the most unstable justice systems in the world even tourist are afraid to visit our state. Last year in ALL of America 33 officer died in the line of duty last year. The lowest number since 1887. A officers chance at getting shot are less than your chances of winning a 100 million in the lottery. Over 4000 babies died from crib death last year. No occupation has less deaths .
    Police have the safest jobs ob the planet as the numbers show.
    On the other hand police are responsable for 1 in 13 shootings . The number of deaths annually is over 1000 annually kill by police. I have yet to witness one that was not jutsified . MURDER by Cop is 100% legal. This clearly shows that if not for double standards the just u sytems would not have any. Last week another unstable officer MURDERED a 68 year old unarmed man all wannabe rambos. This murder was jusified in a few days. like the BELL execution by four unstable cowrads with badges. These officers they got National awards for their murder rampage. In the Bell Case the district attorney Robert Jambois committed over one dozen criminal acts to protect the murders as the latest evidence revealed . When Prosecutors Mishandle Cases, Everyone Pays…Except For Them
    If not for double standards they would not have any at ALL. The 471 criminal regimes all part of the Wisconsin DOJ called justice systems never produce justice. They just cost 2.8 billion annually. Thanks to BIG GOVERNMENT BIG SPENDER SCOTT WALKER. He does not support liberty, justice, freedom, free speech, or democray . Walker wants prison slave labor . Walker has cost the taxpayers of Wisconsin 2.8 billion for the DOJ budget annually 3.2 billion annually in social sevices for the families of his victims.
    This also forced Wisconsin build or remodel 71 courthouse and county jails. Tthe average cost per jail like in Eau claire county was 60 plus million just for the building. Walker budget is short over 100 billion thanks to him. This also required Wisconsin to hire 32,000 union public sector workers since 1995 in the DOJ. BIG GOVERNMENT SCOTT WALKER.
    Walker will Pray in church or sunday and pray on the people all week long.
    This is how Josef Stalin and Fred Koch working together got slave labor in Russia in the 1920`s. Divde concer and incarcerate as the russian history shows. Wisconsin is repeating Russian history.
    Like scott walker says it is working . For the koch dynasty.
    Not educating children is child abuse scott walker. Walkers supports his HERO ted nugent who says poor people should not have the right to vote. Could an AMERICAN think that ? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsHXJr8tqP0 . This is Ronald Reagan on Scott Walkers ideals saying they are commuist.
    This explains the Wisconsin justice stystem making mountains out of mole hills to advance themeslves. This is where they wiil all end up too. Plea bargainging / legal extortion has allowed Wisconsin to have a 97% of all convictions never got a honest day in court. You plea to this or get one hundred years. This is the most violent act in America today . extortion by district attorney which would never be allowed in a democrcay. Walker ended democracy in Wisconsin for russian king david koch. This is the reason mostf our ansestors came to America. To get away from evil walkerites for democracy and freedom. To end king rule and have citizen input. Something Walker does not allow.

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