More Gulfport Boys And Girls To Attend Separate Classes Next Year

Look around one science class at Bayou View Middle School and you can see something is missing -- boys. That's because this year, the Gulfport school is experimenting with the idea of placing sixth grade girls in one hallway and boys in another. The sexes are separated in core subjects like Science, Math and English.

As Jazmine Handy showed off the musical instrument she created, she told us why she doesn't have a lot of good vibes about being in an all-girl class.

"It's kind of aggravating being in a classroom full of girls. I miss the boys a lot, because they make jokes and we laugh at it."

But most girls like single sex classes, because they can focus on their class work and have candid conversations.

"I personally like it better, because I've noticed my grades go up, and I feel more comfortable because you can talk about more things with the teachers," Savanah Mallette said.

And teachers have noticed a change in student behavior.

"There aren't as many discipline problems with girls. It's more talking, but we can get that under control usually. The girls tell me that they feel more comfortable because nobody's going to ridicule them, no matter what they say," Sandy Reed said.

The students aren't separated throughout the day. The boys and girls do share elective courses like art, health and music. The program is considered so successful, it's going to be expanded to the 7th grade next year.

An informal poll of an all-boys class showed most aren't too crazy about the idea.

"I think that we should be able to socialize with the girls," Ashley Neely said.

But many students are willing to give it another chance.

"I think we should try it one more year and if the results are great, then I think we should stick with it," Savanah said.

The Rankin County School District has been looking at Gulfport's method of splitting up boys and girls. Next year, it plans to start the same program for fifth graders at Flowood Elementary School.

The U.S. Department of Education is also studying the issue. The agency is seeking public input on a proposed regulation that would make it easier for schools to offer same-gender classes.