Single-Sex Schools / Schools with single-sex classrooms / what's the difference?  
In March 2002, when NASSPE was founded, only about a dozen public schools offered single-gender classrooms. In the 2011-2012 school year, at least 506 public schools in the United States offered single-sex educational opportunities. About 390 of those schools are COED schools which offer single-sex CLASSROOMS, but which retain at least some coed activities.
In some cases, the only coed activities were lunch and one or two electives, so the distinction between a single-sex school, and a coed school with single-sex classrooms, can become a matter for debate. From March 2002 through July 2007, we listed single-sex schools on one web page, while coed schools with single-sex classes were listed on a separate web page. As it became increasingly obvious that the distinction was often arbitrary, we decided in August 2007 to begin listing all public schools offering single-sex classrooms on the same web page, which is this page.
By our count, 116 of the 506 schools qualified as single-sex schools, meaning that students attending any of those schools have most or all of their school activities in a setting which is all-boys or all-girls. All but five of those 116 schools were single-sex campuses, such as the the Pro-Vision School, an all-boys school in Houston, Texas, or the Charity Adams Earley Academy for Girls in Dayton, Ohio.

Throughout 2011 we learned that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was using our list of schools to send out harassing letters to public schools offering single-sex classrooms. These letters demand the school explain how the program is assessed, demand to see all program data, all information regarding professional development, etc. etc. etc. The letters threaten legal action if the school doesn't promptly reply. The typical ACLU letter also claims, falsely, that the school will lose its eligibility for participation in the school lunch program if the single-gender classrooms continue to be offered. It's harassment pure and simple. But many school administrators don't realize that the ACLU's claims regarding the school lunch program are false, and most public schools - and even most smaller school districts - do not employ their own legal counsel. Instead they hire outside attorneys on an hourly rate, as needed. Just hiring an attorney to read a letter from the ACLU, determine which claims are legally valid, and respond to the letter, can cost a school hundreds of dollars in legal fees - at a time when schools are having to cut programs, and let good teachers go, because of lack of funds.

For example, the Adrian school district - a small school district in rural Missouri - began offering girls' classrooms and boys' classrooms, as an option. The district superintendent Kirk Eidson reported that "the single-gender classes have created fewer distractions and that students are doing better". Nevertheless, the ACLU sent a letter threatening legal action if the district did not abandon the single-gender format. Steven Book, an attorney working for the Adrian school district, said that while the district "does not necessarily agree with ACLU's legal analysis or conclusions regarding research on this topic" it will accede to the group's request. The ACLU never had to file a lawsuit or even a formal complaint. The single-gender classrooms were abolished merely as a result of a letter from an ACLU attorney.

Smaller school districts often simply do not have the time or the personnel to deal with the ACLU's harassment. It's easier to give in than to fight.

We don't want to do anything to facilitate the ACLU's program of harassment. For this reason, we took down our list of public schools offering single-gender classrooms (including public schools which are completely single-gender) in the fall of 2011. Consequently, we no longer estimate the number of schools offering single-gender classrooms. Without providing a list of schools, any estimate would be impossible for third parties to verify.

Single-gender programs in public schools are legal, as the Federal court ruling in the Breckinridge case clearly demonstrated, and as the 2012 ruling in the Wood County case reaffirmed. If your district wants to offer an all-girls public school or an all-boys public school, the requirements are very simple. Title IX does not apply to public school districts offering single-gender SCHOOLS; only to COED schools offering single-gender CLASSROOMS. The opening clause of Title IX (1681.a.1) states that "in regard to admissions to educational institutions, this section shall apply only to institutions of vocational education, professional education, and graduate higher education, and to public institutions of undergraduate higher education." Single-sex vocational schools such as trade schools to learn plumbing, carpentry etc. are prohibited, but non-vocational single-sex public schools in grades K-12 are explicitly exempted from Title IX, as stated in the Title IX statute itself, 1681.a.1. The full text of Title IX is available at . The regulations issued by the United States Department of Education reaffirmed that single-sex SCHOOLS can be established by school districts without regard to the requirements of Title IX. For example, 34 CFR 106.34 affirms that a public school district could establish a boys' public school without establishing a girls' public school, or vice versa, as a matter of law. (We encourage school districts to launch both girls' schools and boys' schools simultaneously, but the courts have found no Constitutional, statutory, or regulatory requirement to do so.) The Constitutional requirement, as clarified by the United States Supreme Court in the 1996 VMI decision, is that public schools must provide comparable courses, services, and facilities to girls and boys. But that provision does NOT require that a district offer a girls' school if it is offering a boys' school, or vice versa, as per current regulations (34 CFR 106.34).

If your district wants to offer a coed school with single-gender classrooms, then the requirements are more complex. You should began by contacting us and we will be glad to help. Unfortunately, there are still school administrators out there who think it's legal to ASSIGN girls and boys to single-gender classrooms, without first obtaining "opt in" consent IN WRITING from parents. This "opt out" approach is explicitly prohibited by the Wood County precedent. If you aren't familiar with the Breckinridge ruling and the Wood County ruling, then you need either to become familiar with those rulings, or collaborate with someone who knows those rulings - or abandon the notion of single-gender classrooms in coed school altogether and instead create a girls' school and a boys' school, if only to keep your legal bills down. Do not assume that your school district's counsel is up-to-date on these rulings. We have found that most attorneys hired by American public schools are not familiar with these rulings. If the attorneys bill you on an hourly basis, then they will bill you for the time they take to read the rulings and analyze them. That's not a wise expenditure of scarce funds. Do your homework before you launch single-gender schools or classrooms, and please check with us BEFORE you make the announcement regarding the launch of your single-gender program! There's never a charge for a consultation via phone or e-mail.

If you are a parent looking for a PRIVATE girls' school in the United States or Canada, we recommend that you begin with the list of member schools of the National Coalition of Girls' Schools. For a more comprehensive list of girls' private schools in the United States, go to the listing of private schools maintained by the United States Department of Education, enter your state, and enter "Female" under "additional characteristics." This list is not comprehensive, but it's close. (Isn't it strange that the United States Department of Education maintains a list of girls' PRIVATE schools but not a list of girls' PUBLIC schools?)

If you are a parent looking for a PRIVATE boys' school in the United States or Canada, we recommend that you begin with the list of member schools of the International Boys' School Coalition. For a more comprehensive list of boys' private schools in the United States, go to the listing of private schools maintained by the United States Department of Education, enter your state, and enter "Male" under "additional characteristics." This list is not comprehensive, but it's close.


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