DCPS should steer away from single-sex schools


Graphic by Pia Doran

Grace Kowal, Contributor

There are over 10,000 single-sex schools in the U.S. These schools, while founded with good intentions, are ultimately negatively impacting our generation. The damage that is produced by single-sex schools is significant, yet dismissed by the families who are enrolled in them.

DCPS is planning to take over an all-girls charter school called Excel, located in Southeast, after the school’s poor test scores and insufficient funds caused it to lose its license. It now faces the question of whether to turn the school into a co-ed institution or keep it as it is. The benefits of continuity are not worth the drawbacks of single-sex schools, and DCPS is doing our city a disservice by promoting them.

For the feminist movement to be successful, the young boys in this country can’t be regressing in their perspective on women and equality. Since boys at single-sex schools have limited interactions with women, the cultural divide increases between men and women in every stage of life. Without developing adequate social skills through experience and observational learning, young boys learn how to treat girls through the media. Movies and TV often imply that it is acceptable to objectify or patronize women.

All-girls schools deteriorate society as well, albeit in different ways. These schools, such as Holton-Arms, foster an environment that puts added pressure on girls to succeed, merely because they are girls. “Any failure by a student is a failure to womankind,” one Holton student recalled hearing from a teacher. Psychotherapist Stella O’Malley, who worked with and studied girls in single-sex schools, explained, “The pressure to perform socially can be too intense for many girls and so they ultimately end up under-performing in all spheres.” By placing such pressure on girls, all-female schools are individually harming their students across the country.

In addition to imposing unfair expectations for girls, single-sex school communities are, in general, far less supportive of homosexuality than public schools. Self-expression is more challenging to achieve as girls and boys feel more pressured to fulfill the same stereotypical characteristics as their peers.

On top of all of that, the very definition of all-boys and all-girls schools shuts out those whose gender identity is fluid or happens not to match their sex. By only accepting one gender, any non-binary, gender fluid, or transgender student is told that their gender identity does not fit.

Single-sex schools result in few benefits, which are substantially outweighed by the damage they cause to society and individuals. Students don’t need to be more isolated; they need to be more immersed in social situations that will allow them to contribute to society more effectively. DCPS should not make the decision to fuel and participate in the movement of single-sex schools–to do so would contribute to a social regression of our city and our country.