Sex Education and Gender Identity
Could you imagine a society in which we are all separated by gender? Single-sex schools might be the first step in this direction. Gender-segregated schools have both advantages and disadvantages, but the downsides are more notable. Although some people believe that single-sex schools are better for both male and female students, research has shown single-sex schools promote sexism and gender stereotypes, offer no significant benefits (,) and often cause students to be ill-prepared for life outside of school.
One reason single-sex schools should not be implemented is their tendency to foster sexist ideas and gender stereotypes in students. Research shows that children who attend single-sex schools are more likely to conform to common gender stereotypes (Benefits and Disadvantages to Single-Sex Education). Boys who are friends with mainly other boys often become more violent and “”aggressive,”” and girls tended to act “”more sex-typed”” (Lewin). As stated by professors Rebecca Bigler and Lise Eliot, “”placing children into classrooms based on their gender… will virtually guarantee that teachers’ expectations are biased and their practices are misguided for most students.”” Clearly, this can cause problems for students who do not conform to preexisting ideas surrounding their gender. Classroom activities and assignments also tend to be more gender-biased in single-sex schools (Bigler and Eliot). Research conducted at Penn State University has shown that “”…when separated for just two weeks, students played less with children of the opposite gender…”” (Blake). This statement illustrates the prejudicial effect gender separation can have on a developing child’s mind. Separating children by gender often leads to a less varied set of interests (Bigler and Eliot). Children in single-sex schools often gravitated towards options more common for their genders (Bigler and Eliot). As we can see from the research, single-sex schools can cause students to develop sexist and stereotyped views.
Another reason single-sex schools should not be implemented is the lack of positive effects they have on students. The American Psychological Association (APA) looked at the results of 184 different studies concerning single-sex and coeducational schools. These studies, which span over 45 years and involve over 1.6 million students, examined many aspects of the participants including grades, personal confidence levels, and “”attitudes”” towards their education. The APA concluded there are no significant differences in grades. The results also showed that girls did not seem to have greater academic aspirations. (Single-Sex Education Unlikely to Offer Advantage Over Coed Schools, Research Finds). Stated in the article Benefits and Disadvantages to Single-Sex Education, “”any improvement was found to be negated by the fact that the teachers tended to push the girls harder and make the classes a little more rigorous…”” as to rival the male students. Thus, it can be concluded that gender separation does not directly lead to any benefits. Furthermore, the quality of education provided in a school has proven more important than the composition of the class (Schroeder). Advocates for single-sex schooling say boys and girls have inherited learning differences and separation would allow for more learning to take place. This statement, however, has been disproven by researchers (Bigler and Eliot). In fact, Bigler and Eliot also suggest that “”… boys differ more among each other in academic and social skills than they differ from girls, and vice versa.”” Consequently, single-sex schools would not necessarily lead to an increased amount of learning. It has been proven through extensive research that single-sex schools do not lead to any serious improvements.