Tallahassee, Florida - May 22, 2012 -
Many single sex education programs in Florida may violate federal law, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a letter sent to state education officials on Monday. While the number of schools with single gender classes in Florida has dropped in recent years to 32 last year, the ACLU said that data on the programs that it received from state officials "indicates that several violate federal and or state law." In some cases assignment to single sex programs is "virtually compulsory," which would run afoul of federal law, and in some cases schools fail to offer a co-educational alternative, the ACLU said. It said some schools offer programs to one gender but not the other, among other complaints. "Several schools admitted to the DOE that their sex segregated programs are not voluntary, violating the plain language of federal and state law," the ACLU said. The group called on the Department of Education to investigate whether the single sex programs it identified as potentially illegal are still going, and if so, to force schools to end them, or issue sanctions. The letter was sent Monday to Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson and Educational Policy Director Lydia Southwell.