Single-Sex Schools Provoke Increased Discrimination

The idea of gender in schools has previously been a simple topic of having males and females only, in a school setting. Now there is much more to it than that, from my teaching experience I have encountered a transgender student. When informed about teaching this student, I was given no advice. However, I did find that the other students had some comments about this student, I heard one student say, “Why can’t you just be normal and be a lad?”. I heard another say, “Why are you wearing a skirt?”. This kind of attitude is rife among young students who follow opinions off the internet. This type of interactions seems to be more commonplace between teens. When I think of gender I think back to my school days and the males in pants and the females in skirts, different bathrooms and how boys love PE and girls hate PE as shown above gender is more than that now.

As Barnes states the boys are seen as “macho” and physically they must display this. Barnes states that a hierarchy develops in schools, looking at the female side, I found this too, the sporty girls had more confidence when it came to speak and answer questions, they would talk over the reserved students. Barnes mentions the study of Mac an Ghaill where teachers normalise machismo and gender subjects this is at the forefront of boys in single-sex schools. In 2015 a study showed Ireland contained 242 single-sex schools, this was out of a total of 732 schools, meaning that 33% of schools were single-sex schools. Students in secondary schools are evolving and going through many changes and some may be struggling with who they are and specifically their gender. It begs the question, why are we restricting male and female students from what they feel comfortable with? Are we meant to believe students education is better by being segregated?

In my mixed school, gender divisions were evident as earlier mentioned, subject choices were the main area. I found that in 2011 only 719 boys studied home economics compared to 8,005 girls, these figures are similar in technology and construction subjects where boys far outnumber girls. Lynch and Lodge make the argument that this is due to the schools, they are discouraging their students by structures, schools are structuring timetables under gender assumptions. I can relate to my school days and I must agree, I wanted to do certain subjects and I couldn’t simply due to timetables. Home Economics was pencilled in at the same time as Construction Studies. I guess you could say my choice came down to “gender norms”. The school assumed this wouldn’t cause any trouble as all the boys would choose construction and the girls home economics. How can schools tackle this situation in the future to make a fairer system? A possible solution may include offering students a sample period where they can try out each subject before making their choice. Lynch & Lodge mention how teachers have been given guidelines for gender equality, however, this is one area which is gender-biased in schools. This could mentally impact someone who is unsure of what gender they identify with, the segregation and obligation to use a bathroom based on their genitalia may seriously harm their mental health. 

To summarise, schools must know how to educate for gender diversity, schools need to be a place where young males or females don’t feel isolated due to their sexuality. A school needs to be a place where everyone feels comfortable and respected, this relates to sexuality too.

07 July 2022
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