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Dept. of Education Issues New Rules Regarding Single-Sex Schools and Classes (Education Law Update)

November 02, 2006

The United States Department of Education issued new rules on October 24, 2006 which are a major change in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs or activities that receive federal funds. Under the new rules, a school is now able to offer a single-sex class if it has a "substantially equal" co-educational class in the same subject area and gives students the choice of opting out of the all-boys or all-girls class. In addition, a public-school district will now be able to offer a single-sex school to one gender if it offers a "substantially equal" coed school to students of the other gender.

The Department of Education announced it was looking at the issue of single-sex classes schools several years ago. The old rules prohibited single-sex classes and extra-curricular activities in public and private coed schools, although there were limited exceptions for classes like physical-education classes involving contact sports and for classes providing sex education. Under the old rule, public schools for students of one sex were permitted only when a district set up a comparable school for students of the other sex.

In the past, Title IX rules have not been enforced consistently. Consequently, the impact of the new rules will not be immediately known. The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Organization for Women have both expressed opposition to the new rules.

The new rules take effect on November 24, 2006. The rules can be found at http://www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister/finrule/2006-4/102506a.html. If you need any additional information concerning the rules or compliance with them, please contact any member of our Education Law Team.

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