October 17, 2012
SEPARATE BUT EQUAL? SAME-SEX PUBLIC SCHOOLING: U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Kay Bailey Hutchison have an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, arguing the merits of same-sex public school classrooms and schools. True, segregation by gender in public schools seems to be motivated by a desire to improve test scores and minimize hormonal distractions that impede learning. But is this consistent with the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, or is the concept of “separate but equal” equally pernicious when applied to gender, as it is to race? In the words of the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education, “We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”
It’s an interesting legal question, not yet decided by the Supremes: Can government segregate based on gender if such segregation is “benign” in purpose?