This post regards my feelings in response to this article.
I can’t possibly agree that Catholic schools are doing the right thing by segregating students by sex. A lot of this stems from my non-religious upbringing, my views on sexual education, and my absolute love for the community that was built on my co-ed floors for three of my college years. But it also stems from the thought process behind single-sex dorms: that students shouldn’t be engaging in sexual activities and single-sex dorms will alleviate this problem.
Problem 1: Students will have sex. No matter what situation you put them in, what you threaten them with, teenagers are full of hormones and are in a stage of their lives where they are experimenting to discover who they are. Not everyone will have sex as a teen, but a lot of people will and they need to be safe doing it. Last year I attended an RA (resident assistant) conference and I presented with a co-worker on a sexual health fair we had worked on at our school. It taught students how to put on condoms correctly, what sex toys were, and what kind of precautions they should be taking while enjoying themselves. Afterwards, we stayed for another group of RAs and their sexual health program in order to learn more about successfully integrating education into our reslife activities. During all of this, I had the opportunity to connect with two girls who worked at a catholic school. They told us how they weren’t allowed to talk to their students about sex in any capacity, how condoms were passed out by some RAs to students at risk of losing their jobs. It enraged me and at the same time I felt these girls’ frustrations that they weren’t allowed to help their students. They told us how residents came to them all the time and outright told them about their sexual endeavors, and they were powerless to help in any capacity.
How fucked up is that? It’s like someone telling you that they’re going bike riding and want to find a helmet, but you’re not allowed to give them any information on where to find one or how to use it. Um, let these kids protect themselves! Really.
Problem 2: Single-sex dorms do not stop students from having sex. Sex does not only happen at night during curfew hours, and it does not only happen with the door closed. Sex happens wherever anyone is willing to engage in intercourse, and these locations become more varied and more dangerous when students aren’t allowed to be doing it in the privacy of their own rooms. Students are going to sneak around and hide everything they can from every adult in sight because it’s not allowed.
Not only that, but I think single-sex dorms really stifle interaction between students, especially since men and women are taking classes together and will have to deal with each other in the real world one day.
In the end, I think Catholic schools are going to have to realize the harm they’re causing students by enforcing these strict rules. If students are deeply religious, I believe they will follow their beliefs out of love for their religion and for God rather than being forced to out of fear. If Catholic religious leaders believe that their testament is strong, I think they should be willing to believe that Catholic students will do what’s right. If not, it should be the students’ choice and not the school.