One Gym Two Genders

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Melissa Van Keuren

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Nearly every class in school is a way to advance the knowledge of one’s mind, but to balance the curriculum, it is a common practice for schools to require at least one year of physical education. As one of the few classes that can go outside, the activities range from sports to laps and even a weightlifting course for those interested. While it may not be the recess that all high school students sorely miss, it is a great opportunity to escape their desk in exchange for some much needed exercise.

Originally, the general physical education classes were separated by gender with only specific gym classes being the exception. Starting in 2016 classes have become co-ed allowing both genders to intermingle. Still, some institutions and individuals believe that same-sex education is the only way to get the best results.

In 2010, 78.2 percent of high school students graduated on time. While Eagle Academy in New York, the state’s first public all-male school, reported an 82 percent graduation rate for the same time period. Similarly, the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School in Chicago reported a 100 percent graduation rate, all according to

“I actually think single-sex PE is better because it’s more fun for both genders,” junior Lauren Carroll said. “Guys can be noninclusive and girls can compete better against each other. Single-ed would cause more participation in PE.”

This shows one side of the spectrum stating the opinion that being separated is the better choice. These school wide changes, however, suggest the opposite since both middle school and high school gym classes are now co-ed.

“I think there is good and bad to both, I feel like they are used to it since when they come from middle school it is co-ed,” physical education teacher Kelly O’Bryan said. “When they get up here it’s nothing really new to them.”

Having co-ed classes can also affect their ability to interact after their schooling has come to an end. A 2006 study by market research company, The Strategic Counsel, found that students at coed independent high schools enjoyed school more, had greater confidence in their math, science and English abilities, and made friends more easily with members of the opposite sex than their single-sex school peers, according to

“I do feel like sometimes I have better participation when it was co-ed than if it was just girls,” O’Bryan said. “But then you do have those girls that like PE, enjoy it and are athletic and the boys give them some competition that they wouldn’t be able to get in an all girls.”