Are Single-Sex Schools Meeting Their Goals?

Student Life

Single-sex schools claim their schools create a better environment for students to express themselves, stay focused, and perform better academically. They say that keeping schools segregated keeps students focused on school work and gives them a chance to grow into confident young adults. However, there are also many downsides to single-sex schools, such as fostering sexism, and missing out on formative experiences that shape the real world.

Children spend five days a week at school in order to learn the skills needed later in life. But it could be that single-sex schooling is hindering some of that development. A large part of the "real world" involves interacting with and managing other people, which requires a lot of empathy and understanding of the opposite binary sex. The issue that single-sex schools bring up is that, especially for those who start there young, they're not taught how to interact with others to such an extent as coed schools. Although single-sex schooling can be empowering, it's not an accurate representation of what life will be like in an average workplace. Children need the experience of making friends with and working cooperatively with people of another gender in order to build better social skills.

Studies in the Uk have shown that people who attended single-sex schools scored higher on dating anxiety and troubles after graduating. Similar studies showed that men in their forties who went to single-sex schools were more likely to get divorced later in life. However, single-sex schooling had no affect on the statistics of teen pregnancy, a common concern of parents sending their children to public school. This hindering of experience can lead to a lot of problems, such as believing stereotypes and promoting sexism. Schools are about more than figures and academic excellence. Students learn important social skills from being in a classroom environment, and single-sex schooling can skew those skills because of the focus on pure academics.

Negative stereotypes affect both men and women, and Seattle Pi says that single-sex schooling only continues to fuel the fire of stereotyping. Because many children who attend single-sex schools rarely interact with members of the opposite binary sex on a regular basis, they're more inclined to believe negative stereotypes. It's easy for students who have learned only with their same-sex peers for years to conclude that they're better than the other sex, or must have some kind of superiority, especially in young boys. Diane Halpern, former president of the American Psychology Association, says that "Single gender schools may foster gender stereotyping and sexism in a world that's far more diverse than before." Students may internalize these prejudices, which can lead to sexism and gender-based discrimination.

Several cases have been brought up in recent years arguing the legality of single-sex schooling as a whole. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a federal suit against single-sex schooling. They argued that the offering of all girls and all boys classes at a Kentucky public school was illegal and discriminatory. They claimed that it violated the Equal Opportunities Act and Title IX and should be abolished. Although they lost the case, many other law suits have been filed with similar concerns regarding single-sex schooling.

Lastly, many people argue that the positive benefits of single-sex schooling are not as prevalent as they may seem. After all, we all end up in similar places regardless of schooling. Is it really worth it to segregate students based on sex if the results don't make much of a difference? Parents who send their children to single-sex schools often bring up concerns about their child being distracted by members of the opposite sex during class, or that they don't want their child to date while in school. But the reality is, if they want to be distracted or they want to date, going to a segregated school really won't hinder them very much. All girls' schools are renowned for hosting a high population of women-loving-women (wlw), and teen pregnancy and relationship statistics are nearly identical for both single-sex and coed schools. If anything, coed schools give students the opportunities to experience their feelings and teach them to interact with members of the opposite binary sex in a healthier way, making way for healthier relationships in the future.

Personally, I think single-sex schooling can have pros and cons. I think that while they may be a good idea at the time, in order to boost productivity and empower people, especially young women, in the greater scheme of things, they just don't make sense. Especially if someone is raised completely on single-sex schooling, they miss a lot of formative moments in relation to people of other genders. Even if single-sex schooling is better in the academic short term, you learn a lot more about life than academics in school and that's where single-sex schools are going wrong. All in all, I think they're fine but have negative affects on students that should be taken into account.

Quinn Beck
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Quinn is a high school student with a passion for writing and journalism. Besides writing, they are also an actor and artist and spend much of their time doodling on school assignments.