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Federal judge halts West Virginia sex-segregated classes

A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia [official website] on Wednesday issued a temporary injunction blocking same-gender classes at a West Virginia middle school. The order follows a lawsuit [press release] brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] on behalf of a mother of three daughters studying at Van Devender Middle School in Wood County, West Virginia, which separated students and curriculum based on the students' gender. The mother claims [letter] the policy does not allow her daughters to choose a co-educational class and that they have suffered "emotional and physical distress" as a result of the separated learning environments. According to a Charleston Gazette op-ed by Sarah Rogers, staff attorney for the ACLU, there is "no credible research showing that separating boys and girls in school produces better academic outcomes. There is, however, credible research demonstrating that single-sex classes perpetuate sex stereotypes and result in unequal educational opportunities for boys and girls." The injunction [ACLU press release, PDF] demands that the school return to a co-educational system on Monday until a final decision on the case can be made.

The effort to end same-sex classes is part of the ACLU's Teach kids, not stereotypes [ACLU backgrounder] initiative. The ACLU had previously sent a letter [text, PDF] to the Wood County School District outlining their case for reintegration in which they claim the segregated classes violate federal Title IX [text], which bars schools from discrimination on the basis of sex.

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