The wisdom behind sending your child to a same-sex school might be that by keeping them away from members of the opposite sex, they won’t get distracted from their studies as easily. However, a newly published study discovered that children who studied in sex-segregated schools weren’t any better educated than those who were in coed schools but were more ready to accept gender stereotypes.

The researchers studied preschool classes to look at the way gender divisions affected students, according to a press release. When the teachers in the experiments lined up the children by gender and had them post their work on separate bulletin boards, the researchers found that “the students showed an increase in gender-stereotyped attitudes toward each other and their choice of toys, and they played less with children of the other sex.”

According to the researchers, “The choice to fight sexism by changing coeducational practices or segregating by gender has parallels to the fight against racism. The preponderance of social science data indicated that racially segregated schools promote racial prejudice and inequality.”

“The bottom line is that there is not good scientific evidence for the academic advantages of single-sex schooling,” said researcher Lynn Liben. “But there is strong evidence for negative consequences of segregating by sex — the collateral damage of segregating by sex.”

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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