Sex Separation Stirs Up Controversy

During recess at E.J. Moss Intermediate School, the girls play on one playground, while the boys run along to their separate playground -- far enough away so it's guaranteed there will be no fighting or sexual behavior between genders, at least not during recess.

"During that 15 minutes of recess, they certainly aren't going to be harmed in any way by not being able to talk to a boy or a girl," Principal Michael Griffin said.

He started the separation policy in the spring and says it's worked so well, he's continuing it this school year.

To a former 5th grade teacher, whose son now attends E.J. Moss, the policy is a great idea that can help solve disciplinary problems.

"When we would get back to the classroom, then I'd have to take those children that had problems outside and deal with it," Pydi Oliver, mother of a 5th grade boy, said. "Meanwhile, it would take away from instructional time."

But some parents disagree.

"If a teacher has a problem, she shouldn't take away from her instruction time," Donna Wieneke, mother of a 6th grade boy, said. "She should send him to Mr. Griffin."

Parents like Wieneke say separating boys and girls now is only postponing the problem.

"It may solve the problem at that campus right now," she said. "But as those kids grow and change and get older, you know, they're not going to learn to deal with these changes that they're going through."

Before last week, boys and girls were also separated at lunch. But Griffin decided to let them sit together for the first time in more than a year. But if it gets too roudy, they may have to be separated again.

Aside from lunch, the kids get to practice their social skills in the classroom, the halls, and before and after school.

Parents on both sides of the argument voiced their concerns at last Monday's Lindale ISD Board meeting.

Some teachers say they've noticed a difference since the separation policy has been in place, mainly fewer disciplinary problems and less tension on the playground.

Julie Tam, reporting.