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Library says ‘Girls Who Code’ program doesn’t violate Title IX because it lets in boys (if they ask)

‘A Boys Who Code program would never be allowed,’ activist scoffs

If you went to the library and saw an offered program called “Girls Who Code,” would you think it was open to your son?

Northern California’s Sebastopol Library, which receives federal education funding and is thus subject to Title IX, is arguing that its coding program’s name is irrelevant to who’s allowed to participate in it.

Local newspaper Sonoma West reports that a local “men’s rights advocate” has filed a Title IX complaint over the program with the U.S. Department of Education. Joe Manthey argues that its name clearly indicates that boys are excluded from participation in the program “on the basis of sex.”

While Analy High School agreed to stop advertising Girls Who Code to get out of the Title IX complaint, the library insists there’s nothing “discriminatory” about the program:

“Girls Who Code is a reputable, well-known and respected program,” said Sonoma County Library’s Community Relations Manager Ray Holley. “There’s a well-established gender gap in technology fields, and there is a national effort to address that. We would like to be part of that.”

Holley said boys have participated in the “Girls” class in the past, though the library has never tried to verify each participant’s gender through an, ahem, personal inspection.

Manthey should really get over the “title” of the class, since every class is open to everyone, according to Holley.

MORE: See what happened when a university ‘welcomed’ everyone but men

This explanation prompted Manthey to laugh out loud, according to Sonoma West:

“This is a common response that public agencies use,” Manthey said. “It’s nothing new. Everything (about this class) is for girls — the name of the class, every announcement from the Analy Bulletin to their Facebook page, it’s for girls. This class is a part of an international organization for girls. According to their website, ‘Girls Who Code is on a mission to close the gender gap in technology.’”

“A Boys Who Code program would never be allowed at a university or public library, and would never be excused by the argument that if an occasional girl wanted to participate, she wouldn’t be turned down,” Manthey wrote in an email to Sonoma West.

Manthey’s complaint advised the library to take the easiest route and add a “Boys Who Code” program, which would make “Girls” properly offered under Title IX. But he’d rather the library “get out of the social engineering business and instead focus on literacy,” where the gender gap is pronounced – against boys.

The Girls Who Code website isn’t doing the library any favors. The College Fix has been unable to find any image of a boy anywhere on the website, which exclusively highlights “girls” and related terms, such as “sisterhood,” “women” and “female engineers.”

A “frequently asked questions” answer explicitly says the clubs are limited to girls, though it clarifies that it classifies girls as those who “identify as female, regardless of gender assignment at birth or legal recognition.” No other page The Fix could find mentions anyone other than cisgender girls, whose gender identity aligns with their sex.

The issue is likely to go beyond Sonoma County. University of Michigan-Flint Prof. Mark Perry, who regularly files Title IX complaints against programs advertised as women-only, highlighted the dispute on his Twitter profile Wednesday.

MOREMore than half of colleges ‘facially violate’ Title IX against men

IMAGE: John T Takai/Shutterstock

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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