The JCPS School Board voted to advance a proposal to create a Males of Color Academy. Prior to the Board’s vote, we issued a letter to Board Members outlining our concerns about the current proposal. You can read a copy of the full letter below:
June 26, 2017
Dear Members of the Board:
We write to express our concerns regarding the proposal to found a new middle school for boys of color, to open in the fall of 2018. We strongly urge the Board to reconsider its approach. We fully support efforts to eliminate educational disparities, to provide new educational opportunities, and to improve life outcomes for children of color in Louisville. Indeed, the provision of new educational options, including institution of a school using a more culturally responsive curriculum, is a promising step. However, providing such a new opportunity in the context of a school open to boys only is not the right solution, and raises significant legal and policy concerns. As a national leader on the issue of single-sex education with considerable expertise on the law in this area, we write to share our concerns with you today in the hopes that the Board will rethink its approach.
The Board’s focus on addressing the severe and deplorable educational situation facing Black and Latino youth in Louisville is commendable. The ACLU of Kentucky decries the racial disparities in educational outcomes, in Louisville and across the state. And we support and advocate for efforts both to stem the school-to-prison pipeline that results in students of color being disproportionately funneled into the criminal justice system, with often devastating long-term consequences to their life prospects, and to combat the overrepresentation of young men of color in our jails and prisons.
However, despite the proposal’s commendable attempt to tackle these critical problems, it suffers from a fatal flaw: it leaves girls of color behind. Black and Latina girls live in the same neighborhoods, attend the same schools, and share many of the same struggles as their male counterparts, while also facing unique circumstances and obstacles to academic success. Girls as well as boys of color in Louisville are in need of improved educational options. There is no justification for making this new opportunity available only to their brothers, on the basis of their sex, rather than based on young people’s actual need. Moreover, single-gender education has not been proven to be any more effective than coeducation in improving student outcomes, and risks promoting harmful gender stereotypes.
In addition to these policy concerns, approval of the proposal would raise significant legal issues under Federal law, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the U.S. Constitution. Each of these sources of law broadly prohibits legal distinctions based on sex—including the formation of all-male or all-female schools—with few narrow exceptions that require rigorous justification. These legal and policy concerns are outlined for the Board’s benefit below.
 See generally Kimberle Crenshaw, Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Over Policed, and Under Protected, African American Policy Forum, http://static1.squarespace.com/static/53f20d90e4b0b80451158d8c/t/54dcc1ece4b001c03e323448/1423753708557/AAPF_BlackGirlsMatterReport.pdf [hereinafter Crenshaw, Black Girls Matter].