October 24, 2006

The triumphant return of Separate but Equal

It turns out segregation is a-okay, so long as it's `voluntary' and based on gender instead of race:

The Bush administration is giving public school districts broad new latitude to expand the number of single-sex classes, and even schools, in what is widely considered the most significant policy change on the issue since a landmark federal law barring sex discrimination in education more than 30 years ago.

Two years in the making, the new rules, announced today by the Education Department, will allow school districts to create single-sex schools and classes as long as enrollment is voluntary. School districts that go that route must also make coeducational schools and classes of ``substantially equal'' quality available for members of the excluded sex.


Now, I'm not a lawyer, but isn't the reasoning behind Brown v Board of Education that segregation in and of itself is a grave injustice? Pragmatic arguments -- ``girls are intimidated by boys'', ``boys develop self-esteem problems if they're shown up by girls'' -- identify problems, but segregation just ignores (and even reinforces) the sexism that's their underlying cause.

More at Stone Court.

16 comments:

Guy Barry said...

Well maybe what the Education dept announced really just comes down to freedom of choice and also that enrolment is voluntary.
it is volentary

sarah said...

brown v. board of ed is very specifically about racial discrimination in public schools.

i doubt that voluntary gender/sexual separation in public schools would be found to be unconstitutional discrimination.

racial discrimination is looked at with "stict scrutiny," wherein it is assumed that the discrimination is bad & the government has the burden to prove that the discrimination is ok. gender/sexual discrimination is looked at with "intermediate scrutiny" which is a lower level. the discrimination is not assumed to be bad, but not good either. the government still has to prove that the discrimination is good, but has a lower hurdle than with race.

the government has a decent reason behind the creation of gender-specific public classrooms. and attendence in these classes is voluntary only - it is not forced upon any student. additionally, i assume that there has been a suit similar to this before. after all douglass college at rutgers (public university) was all women. and there have been other all women schools affiliated with public universities.

i know that separate but equal was a phrase bantied about in the racial discrimination in education sphere, and that i sounds really good with gender too. but i truly doubt that scotus would find voluntary gender separation to be unconstituional.

Noumena said...

Segregation can't be excused just because the segregation is voluntary, because of what are called adaptive preferences: even people directly harmed by the status quo will prefer it over a truly just alternative. In the early years of the Civil Rights movement, for example, there were many leaders of black communities in the South who denounced the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and claimed they would rather live under segregation than not.

The distinction between strict and intermediate scrutiny is interesting. What's the basis for saying that racial discrimination deserves a more stringent evaluation than gender-based discrimination?

Noumena said...

Much more (and a plethora of links) at feministing.

sarah said...

you are discussing this in a moral/ethical context. i am in a legal context. it would be great if both paradigms overlapped, but unfortunately they don't.

legally, this is kosher.

do i appreciate a world where it is okay to separate men & women in education? no. however, i think there needs to be a place where men and women/boys and girls can be taught separately if they want/need to be. i have seen girls who have been so abused, that they cannot be near men without freaking out. while they work out the issues attendant to abuse & gender blaming, they do need to attend a girls only school/classroom. (as an aside when this happens the state usually places the child in a foster family that is woman only, usually lesbians).

ps- i would never attend a women/girls only school (it was an option for high school & college) - not because of any altruistic reason, simply because i wanted to date men.

sarah said...

forgot this -

gender/sexual discrimination is granted an intermediate level of scrutiny (there is a lower level which is for any old governmental intrusion) because the court decided that this discrimination was pernicious, but not as harmful as racial discrimination. additionally the court stated that there are some differences between men and women that would require different laws in some cases. honestly i can't remember a case where the government action beat the hurdle of intermediate scrutiny, but there has to be some out there. if you want to read the initial reasoning google "craig v. boren" - a lovely little case where the male drinking age was 18 & the women's drinking age was 21 (unconstitutional) & the standard was invented.

personal opinion - the court doesn't give two shits about women's rights - but doesn't want to appear to be a panel of jackasses. THAT's why its a medium level of scrutiny.

Buy penis enlargement pills said...

Well Bush was trying a bit too hard to do something, but nothing was going in his favor.

VigRX effective penis enlargement supplement said...

i appreciate a world where it is okay to separate men & women in education

African Mango weight loss supplement said...

This has become a upsetting topic to discuss. Every one know about it but no one is to protest.

HghEnergizer anti aging treatment review said...

School districts that go that route must also make coeducational schools and class.

Natural penis augmentation pills said...

The Bush administration is giving public school districts broad new latitude to expand the number of single sex classes.

Natural no side-effects phentermine said...

The government has a decent reason behind the creation of gender-specific public classrooms.

African Mango weight loss supplement said...

The educational environment should be without any discrimination for bright future of any nation.

Top Rated Vacuum Cleaners said...

I don't really understand you point of view here but i am convinced that your future posts will make me understand you...

Fitoderm effective acne removal product said...

This is typically alright for the theme.Thanks for sharing it.

Top models clothing 2012 said...

Lately i read so many articles about this topic but i can honestly say that your point of view is the best there are.