Schoolboy's bias suit
Argues system is favoring girls
By Tracy Jan, Globe Staff | January 26, 2006
At Milton High School, girls outnumber boys by almost 2 to 1 on the honor roll. In Advanced Placement classes, almost 60 percent of the students are female.
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Sign up for: Globe Headlines e-mail | Breaking News Alerts It's not that girls are smarter than boys, said Doug Anglin, a 17-year-old senior at the high school.
Girls are outperforming boys because the school system favors them, said Anglin, who has filed a federal civil rights complaint contending that his school discriminates against boys.
Among Anglin's allegations: Girls face fewer restrictions from teachers, like being able to wander the hallways without passes, and girls are rewarded for abiding by the rules, while boys' more rebellious ways are punished.
Grading on homework, which sometimes includes points for decorating a notebook, also favor girls, according to Anglin's complaint, filed last month with the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.
''The system is designed to the disadvantage of males," Anglin said. ''From the elementary level, they establish a philosophy that if you sit down, follow orders, and listen to what they say, you'll do well and get good grades. Men naturally rebel against this."
An international group that examines equity in education called the complaint of discrimination against boys rare. And Milton school officials denied that girls get better treatment than boys. But the female student body president, Kelli Little, voiced support for Anglin's views.
Anglin, a soccer and baseball player who wants to go to the College of the Holy Cross, said he brought the complaint in hope that the Education Department would issue national guidelines on how to boost boys' academic achievement.
Research has found that boys nationwide are increasingly falling behind girls, especially in reading and writing, and that they are more likely to be suspended, according to a 2005 report by the Educational Equity Center of the Academy for Educational Development, an international nonprofit group with headquarters in Washington, D.C.
While school officials said their goal is to help all students improve, the Milton High principal, John Drottar, , suggested in an interview that there may be ways to reach out to underachieving boys. Drottar said the high school plans to reinstitute a mentoring program that will pair low-achieving students with teachers.
While it will not specifically recruit male students, boys are likely to make up a large portion of the students served, he said.
''We're aware of it," Drottar said. ''We're looking into it. On a school basis, does that mean we should look at each classroom and see if we have to encourage boys a little more than girls now? Yeah, it probably does."
Anglin -- whose complaint was written by his father, who is a lawyer in Boston -- is looking for broader changes. He says that teachers must change their attitudes toward boys and look past boys' poor work habits or rule-breaking to find ways to encourage them academically.