Are Single-Sex Schools Inherently Unequal?

In chess, a “fork” occurs when a player, in a single move, attacks two or more of an opponent’s pieces simultaneously, forcing a necessary choice between unappealing outcomes. Similar to the potentially devastating chess move, single-sex public schooling forks many constitutionalists and feminists. Constitutionalists are forced to reexamine the “separate but equal” doctrine’s efficacy, this time through the prism of gender. Although the doctrine – forged in the crucible of race and overcome in the monumental triumph we know as Brown v. Board of Education – rested dormant for generations, persistent (and increasing) single-sex education options are forcing scholars to rethink long-held assumptions about how to breathe new life into the equal educational opportunity doctrine. To some constitutionalists “separate” schools threaten to march girls back to the pre-Brown era and a gendered version of an educational Jim Crow. To others single-sex schools paradoxically enhance educational opportunity by affording more girls (or boys) the chance to achieve their full academic potential.