Single-Sex Schools: Controversies

Paper Info
Page count 8
Word count 2205
Read time 8 min
Topic Sociology
Type Research Paper
Language 🇺🇸 US

The single-sex school system in the United States has been a controversial subject for decades. The proponents of single-sex schools had their reasons, most of which are based on the psychological and biological theoretical frameworks. The opponents have often based their arguments on legal and political opinions, especially in an era where feminism, racism, and gender discrimination took center stage.

Therefore, it can be argued that the topic remains divisive and personal beliefs determine the individuals’ inclinations towards either of the two camps. The purpose of this paper is to address whether single-sex schools create ladies and gentlemen or causes alienation between the two genders. In other words, the social outcomes of single-sex schools will be explored in terms of how the learners behave and function within the society. However, without much research from this perspective, opinions and other published ideas will be used for inferences to support the author’s personal views.

The concerns regarding the potential threats posed by single-sex schools are justified by the fact that they are making a come-back in the United States. According to Eliot (2016), gender-segregated classrooms have long been discouraged by Title IX, which is a federal law prohibiting discrimination in education. However, such urban centers as Los Angeles and Washington have started launching such institutions, which raises the question of whether such arrangements can harm the students. However, it is important to highlight that different parents have varied preferences in this regard.

For example, some people believe that segregating across the gender lines offers better learning environments for the students because instructions can be tailored to the needs of each. Such claims have not been supported by behavioral research, which also makes the debate more polarized. The key point to understand is that the stakeholders launching such educational centers have first-hand experience with them, and their benefits and costs can be further explored.

Some of the most prevalent literature materials on this topic focus on the legal framework and the multiple legislations that have shaped the evolution of single-sex schools. Such an account has been presented by Benham et al. (2019), who also gives court rulings against the efforts to establish gender-segregated education. However, such literature cannot answer the basic question of whether such institutions create ladies and gentlemen or isolate learners along gender lines. Even so, these scholars reveal that the arguments for single-sex schools are threefold. First, boys and girls tend to learn differently, which has been labeled as the most controversial view.

The second argument is that mixed-sex schools are characterized by distractions caused by members of the opposite sex and other differences in how these institutions treat both genders. The last view is subtler and largely irrelevant to this paper because it argues that parents should have diverse options. The last argument has been labeled as irrelevant because it does not relate to learner outcomes but focuses on the guardians.

The explanations regarding gender differences in learning seem plausible due to the varied educational needs. However, this position can be twisted to support an argument that better educational outcomes can shape social life for the better. Good education is often associated with fruitful careers, which means that individuals can live a better social life. However, such career and employment may not be enough to make people behave better or improve their social lives because certain aspects are more inclined towards psychology as opposed to intellect.

The terms ladies and gentlemen can be used to imply men and women of good social position. Such individuals are respected not only because of the economic well-being but also because of living an impeccable social life. A good education can be one of the core elements in the creation of such people. However, the more sensitive subject raised by Benham et al. (2019) is about the distractions as learners from opposite sex interact. Such distractions can impede learning and potentially affect the behavior outside the schools.

It can be argued that single-sex schools can teach restraint better than mixed-sex schools, but this is only an opinion that should be clarified using relevant empirical evidence. In the introduction to their review, Benham et al. (2019) ask two main questions, the most sensitive one being whether single-sex schools gender stereotypes. The rationale is that gender stereotypes are responsible for gender inequity in modern society. However, it is important to acknowledge that single-sex education does not imply that one gender has access to education and the other does not. On the contrary, single-sex schools mean that separate entities are created for male and others for female students.

In such a case, gender inequity in education should not be a concern because all genders have access to the proper learning infrastructure. The nature and causes of the stereotypes have not been explained by Benham et al. (2019), which means that there is inadequate evidence to suggest that single-sex institutions facilitate this problem. Divisions can emerge based on the career paths chosen by each gender, which schools have insignificant influence.

On the question of stereotypes, some people have expressed concerns that single-sex schools have a critical role to play. According to Hunt (2016), such learning centers do not have advantages, and their main disadvantage is that they tend to feed stereotypes and sexism. These concerns could be worrying, especially when there is no evidence to show that both genders learn differently. The explanation offered is that most life situations entail males interacting with females and that only schools are trying to provide an exemption. Single-sex schools fail to make people realize that boys will sometimes outscore boys and, in other cases, the opposite will happen.

Segregation can perpetuate the feeling that men are stronger and better, a phenomenon that can be challenged by placing both genders in the same environment where women can prove themselves. Additionally, the evidence provided by some studies that single-sex schools are more successful has been questioned with an opinion presented that advantaged backgrounds could determine performance. Therefore, the bottom line is that segregation causes division and promotes masculinity and sexism.

It is easier to agree that segregated education does not create ladies and gentlemen. The arguments presented in the article by Hunt (2016) are more appealing and logical. For example, a key point expressed is that there are no single-sex workplaces, which means society does not need a similar arrangement in education. Additionally, Hunt (2016) expressed that both genders need to learn mutual respect and the social skills necessary for the workplace and social interactions after graduation. Such behaviors can be used to define the basic traits of ladies and gentlemen, and Hunt (2016) expresses that mixed-sex schools offer the basic opportunity to learn and acquire them.

However, even these opinions are refuted when published scientific papers prove that single-sex schools are more successful. The concerns regarding stereotyping can also be addressed by gender-segregated education, especially where girls perform better in subjects where males are usually the better performers. The sources cited by Hunt (2016) indicate that in single-sex schools, girls have greater confidence in themselves and tend to have better role models. Again, the positions that are taken by each individual seemingly depend on personal beliefs.

An opinion can be expressed that single-sex schools offer a better environment for vulnerable groups, including females. As expressed earlier, greater confidence and better role models make girls perform better in such subjects as maths and sciences (Hunt, 2016). Given an opportunity to learn in an environment where male students do not dominate them, the female learners can appreciate their own strengths and capabilities, which can be utilized in society.

Such issues as stereotypes can be eliminated by women being strong and showing confidence in their social interactions. Competition with males in schools can be reduced, which will have an effect of not lowering morale and self-belief in such cases where the boys outscore the girls. However, it should also be emphasized that denying the girls an opportunity to outscore the boys may significantly affect the stereotypes. As these arguments are deconstructed, it is becoming increasingly clear that it is hard to reach a single conclusion and to link social outcomes to the school environment.

The support for single-sex schools, especially for girls and other vulnerable populations, can be derived from scientific studies. As expressed earlier, single-sex schools are more ideal for girls to perform as opposed to mixed-sex. The empirical evidence presented by Vijaykumar (2018) indicates that social anxiety is higher in co-education schools as compared to gender-segregated institutions. Therefore, lower anxiety means higher confidence and better social outcomes for the learners. It is important to acknowledge that the best way to eliminate stereotypes, sexism, and racism is by presenting an opportunity for all individuals to fulfill their potential.

The differences in individual needs mean that standardized infrastructure will suit a few people, which will only serve to perpetuate any stereotypes that might exist. The same case can be seen from a racial perspective where African American students may not perform as well as the Caucasians in predominantly white schools. Similarly, girls’ needs can be met better in a girls’ school as opposed to a mixed school. The social anxiety example fully illustrates these arguments in that people perform better in a social setting where they are most comfortable.

The problem of social anxiety cannot be ignored in an educational setting. Similar to Vijaykumar (2018) findings, several other studies reveal that mixed-sex schools expose learners to mixed-gender groups, which causes more anxiety (Wong et al., 2018). The downside of this phenomenon is that learners with greater anxiety cannot study comfortably and may lose motivation to pursue further education or even join careers dominated by the opposite gender.

Additionally, mixed-gender anxiety hinders academic performance, which means that careers and incomes are affected. Additionally, negative psychological and behavioral responses can influence wrong choices, which means that it is the mixed-sex schools that can cause divisions and prevent the making of ladies and gentlemen. However, it is important to acknowledge that people will be forced to interact with the opposite genders in real life. It might appear that mixed gender schools can offer the opportunity for young people to build healthy relationships with the other genders. However, anxiety is a condition that might not be successfully intervened this way, which means the focus on academic outcomes should be prioritized.

The evidence presented so far highlights that single-sex schools perform better than mixed ones. The research by Wong et al. (2018) holds the position that single-sex schools are more gender-salient and causes more mixed-gender anxiety. Other authors express the opinion that such evidence is not conclusive because other factors may affect the success of these educational centers. However, the bottom line is that the primary focus of any learning institution is to facilitate academic performance because this is the element that could influence future success.

The best learning environment should be created for young people, which means eliminating all barriers. Therefore, social anxiety is a learning inhibitor as explained by Vijaykumar (2018), which means the policy implications include developing the necessary interventions. Single-sex schools tend to boost self-confidence for vulnerable populations, including girls, which makes them perform better. It can be argued that such environments are necessary for the fight against gender stereotypes and inequity.

However, it can also be acknowledged that being a lady or a gentleman can be influenced by many other factors that the school environment. Almost all other social settings bring both genders together, a fact highlighted by Wong et al. (2018). Students can learn how to interact with the opposite genders in such settings, which means that schools are not the only places where gender interactions can be honed. Essentially, it can be argued that that social values and norms play a more significant role in the social behaviors of people.

Deviance will be observed even when students of different gender are mixed. Additionally, the stereotypes are often personal beliefs and attitudes and their persistence today shows the unwillingness of people to change. The main argument is that while schools may create ladies and gentlemen or even cause gender divisions, there are several other factors involved in determining the social life of people.

In conclusion, the role of single-sex schools in creating ladies and gentlemen of isolating people along gender lines remains a vague subject. Personal beliefs and opinions have dominated much of the debate and there is inadequate empirical evidence to support most of the positions taken. However, what can be established currently is that social anxiety is a major concern and that single-sex schools perform better than mixed-gender institutions. The social behaviors of people are not ultimately determined by the school setting because other social settings play a major role. However, better academic outcomes are always desirable, which means that better performance can create better people for society.

Lastly, single-sex schools can hardly be seen as being the cause of gender division because they are the only social settings where gender segregation occurs. The schools can be used as a platform for teaching favorable social morals, including fighting all stereotypes and gender bias. Therefore, the position taken is that single-sex schools play a better role in making ladies and gentlemen and contributes less in isolating them.


Benham, N., Desai, M., Freeman, M., Kutzner, T., & Srivastav, K. (2019). Single-sex education. The Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law, 20(2), 509-540. Web.

Eliot, L. (2016). Single-sex schools: Could they harm your child? The Conversation. Web.

Hunt, E. (2016). Single-sex schools offer no advantages and feed stereotypes, psychologists told. The Guardian. Web.

Vijaykumar, S. (2018). Difference in social anxiety among students of single-sex and co-education schools. The International Journal of Indian Psychology, 6(4), 118-126. Web.

Wong, W., Shi, S., & Chen, Z. (2018). Students from single-sex schools are more gender-salient and more anxious in mixed-gender situations: Results from high school and college samples. PLoS One, 13(12), 1-23. Web.

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NerdyBro. (2022, October 14). Single-Sex Schools: Controversies. Retrieved from


NerdyBro. (2022, October 14). Single-Sex Schools: Controversies.

Work Cited

"Single-Sex Schools: Controversies." NerdyBro, 14 Oct. 2022,


NerdyBro. (2022) 'Single-Sex Schools: Controversies'. 14 October.


NerdyBro. 2022. "Single-Sex Schools: Controversies." October 14, 2022.

1. NerdyBro. "Single-Sex Schools: Controversies." October 14, 2022.


NerdyBro. "Single-Sex Schools: Controversies." October 14, 2022.


NerdyBro. 2022. "Single-Sex Schools: Controversies." October 14, 2022.

1. NerdyBro. "Single-Sex Schools: Controversies." October 14, 2022.


NerdyBro. "Single-Sex Schools: Controversies." October 14, 2022.