Gender Separation Up for Debate in UK Classrooms


UK universities are pushing back against gender segregation in classrooms — apparently Prime Minister David Cameron isn’t a fan of separating the co-eds — but the legality of such separation, say if there’s a visiting lecturer discussing Islam which might request such division, is still murky.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission says that gender segregation isn’t “permissible” in an academic setting that’s open to the public, but the current law regarding segregation by gender says the practice is fine when used for religious practices. The rub is the legality, as some instructors and education activists don’t think that separation by sex should ever be allowed on campuses and the conversation has even caused protests from students and politicians alike.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said: “We should not pander to extremism.
Speakers who insist on segregating audiences should not be indulged by educators. “This guidance is wrong and harmful. Universities UK should withdraw it immediately.”

Cameron, speaking through his official spokesperson, said he believed the conversation itself raised “an important issue of principle.” Guest speakers shouldn’t be able to request segregated audiences and he’s calling on Universities UK, an organization that represents the country’s universities, to revise their rules or “guidance” in this area. Again, Cameron is fine with religious separation if that’s your cup of tea, but not in classrooms.

However, one Muslim student and organizer named Tahir Nasser says this is all much ado about nothing.

”I completely disagree with the forced segregation of students at universities. However, this is really a non-issue as Muslim women and men who feel more comfortable sitting next to people of the same gender are already able to do so. Their personal preference should not be imposed upon others who have a different preference.

Image via Shutterstock.

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