Homosexuality and Single-Sex Schools

Empowering Experiences Versus the Promotion of Homosexuality?

Close up of boys at school
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Unfortunately, for many American students, insults and accusations are part of everyday life. All to often, students, as young as elementary school, are faced with criticism and judgment from their peers, and despite great efforts by many, there are still people in our country who are not the diverse, tolerant people we'd like to surround ourselves with on a daily basis. This unfortunate truth means that some students look elsewhere to find supportive and welcoming environments for their middle and high school educations. This is where private school comes into play, as many private schools embrace the many facets of diversity that exist within students, creating vibrant communities unlike what most high school students embrace.

However, there is debate among many about the role of single-sex schools when it comes to homosexuality. While some believe that schools that cater to just one gender provide a supportive place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, others believe that these schools have a hidden side effect: they promote homosexuality.

Scientific Studies

Surprisingly, there are few scientific studies available to provide conclusive evidence, but no limit to personal opinions. The debate topics include whether or not single-sex schools promote gender stereotypes, if homosexuality is learned or genetic and, particularly, how single-sex schools may impact students if it homosexuality is, in fact, learned. Debate.com has a page dedicated to whether or not single-sex schools promote homosexuality. The outcome of those who have contributed to date shows a majority of debaters (59 percent) feel that single-sex schools do not promote homosexuality.

Many single-sex school graduates claim that their experiences, be it high school or even college, were empowering and helped them grow as individuals. Others agree, but say that they discovered their gender identity in that environment because it was the first time they were allowed to experience something different than the stereotypes they grew up with of only male-female couples being acceptable. Unfortunately, for many children stereotypes are all they see in their daily lives and become what they understand simply because they are not exposed to diverse views. Most certainly, no child wants to be intimidated or ostracized simply because they are different.

These difference sometimes mean that students are subject to bullying by peers who don't understand or accept them, and these actions can be especially harsh when adults look the other way or are not present. While some claim that single-sex schools promote gender stereotypes, others adamantly disagree, stating that the single-sex school breaks down the stereotypes and better educates students on a more diverse set of viewpoints.

The Value of an Open and Affirming Culture

What many people don't know is that boys' and girls' schools often play to the strengths of students. These open and affirming cultures can provide better support, counseling, and education, empowering students to embrace who they are more than ever. When students can walk around their school community openly without fear of discrimination or bullying, they are able to grow as individuals and achieve more success.

Both boys and girls have to deal with their sexuality, understanding their feelings and inclinations mean and how to handle them. If they haven't thought of it themselves, the American entertainment industry will certainly put all those gender debates and discussions right under their noses. What any good private school is able to do is to provide some serious mentoring and discussion of issues like teenage sexuality. The tightly wrapped sense of community which most of these schools have makes young people feel comfortable discussing these and other issues.

Teens are under enormous stress under normal conditions. Add to the mix worries about sexuality and grades and you potentially have a recipe for extreme measures of dealing with the stress. For some, this can lead to eating disorders, cutting, or even suicide. Heed the warning signs, no matter how insignificant you think they may be, and talk to someone if there are concerns about the physical, mental, or emotional health of a child. If students feel as though they cannot confront their classmates, they should alert an adult and make sure she follows through. Supporting a peer struggling with an issue often means going against their wishes to deal with issues privately in favor of getting help from a qualified individual. 

Edited by Stacy Jagodowski