Butterfly Cauldron

Thursday, August 03, 2006

This girl is my new heroine

Update:No sooner had I got back to work when I got an email from the ACLU saying the school system has changed its mind. Rather than face a court case, which they would inveriably lose, they decided to stick with mixed-gender classes. See, Michelle? You can make a difference in the world. So don't ever stop standing up for what you believe in.

Girls like this give me hope for the future of the feminist movement. Thirteen-years-old and she knows her own mind, knows what she wants and she's not afraid to ask for it. If I had a daughter, I'd want her to be this brave and certain.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A 13-year-old scuba diver, firefighter cadet and kung fu student taken the Livingston Parish School Board to court over its plans to segregate her middle school by sex.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Baton Rouge federal court for Michelle Selden, who is scheduled to start eighth grade in one week at Southside Junior High School, and her parents, Darren and Rhonda Selde

. . .

Supporters of the separate classes argue that boys and girls learn differently, and separating them can help both do better. Critics compare it to “separate but equal” segregation-era classrooms.

In a statement filed along with the lawsuit, the student wrote, “I have always had boys in my classes before when I have gone to school. I don’t think that having boys in the class has made it hard for me to learn. I think that boys and girls should be treated the same way by teachers and that is unfair for girls to be taught one way and boys to be taught another.”

. . .

According to the lawsuit, one of the experts cited by the school system contends “that because of biological differences in the brain, boys need to practice pursuing and killing prey, while girls need to practice taking care of babies. As a result, boys should be permitted to roughhouse during recess and play contact sports, to learn the rules of aggression. Such play is more dangerous for girls, because girls are less biologically able to manage aggression.”

. . .

“I don’t want to be required to attend all-female classes when I go back to school,” Michelle Selden wrote in the court filing. “I don’t agree that all girls learn one way and all boys learn another way. I don’t agree that all girls behave one way and all boys behave another way.

“I just became certified as a scuba diver. I am a firefighter cadet, which is a junior volunteer firefighter. I have a purple belt in Shaolin Kung Fu. I don’t know whether most girls would be interested in these things or not. I have done these things because I wanted to, whether or not the ‘average girl’ would want to.”

Seriously, listen to her. And listen to the idiots who want to make her stick to classes for girls-only. Girls need to practice taking care of babies?? What? Boys need to hunt and kill? Since when? What the hell? Girls don't need to roughhouse? Huh? Gee, someone should have told me that when I was a girl. Maybe then I wouldn't have been playing football with the boys. Or beating them up when they pissed me off. I had no idea I wasn't able to manage aggression! Clearly, that's why I'm single at my ripe old age. It all makes so much sense now.

Mandatory same-sex classes are illegal. Voluntary ones aren't. And, depending on the individual person, age and development, they can be useful. However, there's no reason to force gender segregation. How, exactly, are kids supposed to learn how to socialize if we keep them apart? How, exactly, are they going to navigate those really fucked-up waters of early adolescence if they are told they're only capable of relating to their own gender? That they are fundamentally different than the opposite gender? What kind of society is that going to create? If my daughter wanted to be in classes with boys and the state wasn't going to let her, I'd sure as hell file suit. Reinforcing gender stereotypes is so not the business the state should be in. It's bad enough girls have to deal with society's screwed up version of girlhood. They don't need it from schools. Schools are to teach, to educate, not to instill gender 'norms'.

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posted by Zan at 11:43 AM


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