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Gender segregation limits potential

Boys and girls together in school is something that has been taken for granted for many years. Little notes passed around the classroom, groups of girls giggling when they pass by boys in the cafeteria and, of course, the prom are all a familiar part of this tradition. These things are slowly being taken from public schools around America as more schools are separating boys and girls of all ages under the pretext of “higher test scores” and “better discipline.”

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “School districts could have separate schools or classes for boys and girls, under a bill unanimously approved by a Senate committee.” Florida already has 13 single-sex schools, and there are 88 in the country. Around the country, 366 schools already provide segregated classes.

The bill, proposed by Sen. Stephen Wise and approved Wednesday by the Senate Pre-K-12th Grade Education Committee, would allow – but not require – every school in America to segregate students by gender.

Wise told the Sun-Sentinel that he believes “it recognizes differences between the way boys and girls learn … boys like to punch each other and push each other, not sit up straight and follow the teacher’s orders.”

Wait, what?

The Senate is supporting a man whose preconceptions about how boys and girls behave are insulting and stereotypical.

I have met plenty of boys who are disciplined, and there are many girls who are more trouble than boys ever could be.

Wise also likely believes that all women like to clean and all men like to play sports and tune their cars.

Additionally, the bill seems to ignore what the people affected by it think about single-sex schools. More than 57 percent of people who participated in a poll conducted by think they are a bad idea.

Anton Lee Jr., a sophomore at Frederick Douglass Academy, an all-male public high school located in Detroit, Mich, told the Detroit News: “At an all-guys school, you have nobody to impress but you.” Lee seems to think that impressing girls is worth it, but impressing your friends and parents is overrated.

Akilah Johnson, a sophomore at Detroit International Academy, told the Detroit News that “at an all-girls school, I’m not so concerned about what people think.”

What’s the point in going the extra mile if it doesn’t get you a date with your high school crush? A simple “Great job, man” from a friend or an “I’m proud of you” from your dad apparently isn’t quite enough.

My dad went to an all-male school and didn’t get involved in any co-ed activities until he was 11. In his first year of being involved at the Jewish Community Center, he couldn’t talk with girls because he wasn’t used to it. He was embarrassed and didn’t know what to do. Girls seemed like creatures from another planet to him.

Among his friends at school, the mentality was very sexist. They typically thought of women in one of two ways: as unreachable saintly things, or as prostitutes.

He told me that boys and girls alike had little to no idea about sex. They weren’t taught sexual education in their segregated schools and the mere idea of talking about it was weird.

“We were just ignorant in the way we thought about the opposite sex, and that ignorance eventually led to unwanted pregnancies and difficulties in the way boys and girls talked to one another outside of school,” my dad said. “If you mentioned the word sex, the most common response you would get is a nervous giggle.”

Fortunately, people are stepping up to prevent gender segregation in schools.

American Civil Liberties Union lobbyist Larry Spalding argued against the bill, saying it could be dangerous and may be unconstitutional.

Spalding told the Sun-Sentinel that “advocates of gender segregation claim boys are good at math because of higher testosterone levels and (can) handle stress better. They also say boys are better abstract thinkers so they’re naturally good at things like engineering.”

“How in the world did my daughter get to become an engineer -­­ or would she have been able to become an engineer with this type of training?” Spalding said.

His daughter has a master’s degree in engineering. Enough said.

Martin Bater is a junior majoring in journalism.