There is no simple "yes" or "no" to this question.
The general rule of federal law is laid out in Title IX of the Education amendments of 1972. It states that a recipient of federal funds shall not provide any course or otherwise carry out any of its educational program or activity separately on the basis of gender or require or refuse participation therein by any of its students on such basis including health, physical education, industrial arts, business, vocational, technical, home economics, music, and adult education classes. In addition Chapter 12 of the Iowa Administrative Code, which constitutes the accreditation standards for Iowa schools states that school districts shall take affirmative steps to integrate students in courses on the basis of gender.
However, Title IX was recently modified to allow for experimentation with gender-segregated classes under very specific conditions:
- There must be an important educational objective such as to raise student achievement and/or increase student participation in the program or course.
- The problem which motivates the change must be clearly identified.
- The course is implemented in an even-handed manner for both males and females.
- Student enrollment in the single-gender course or program is strictly voluntary.
- The school provides all other students including students of the excluded gender a substantially equal coeducational class or activity. Under some circumstances, the school may be required to provide a substantially equal single gender class or activity for the other gender.
- The school conducts periodic evaluations to ensure the single gender class is based upon genuine data-based justifications, and does not rely on overly broad generalizations about the talents, capacities, or preferences of either gender, and is genuinely related to an important educational objective. The evaluations must be conducted every two years.
- The evaluations show that the single gender program is leading to higher achievement and/or participation in the course or program. If not, the practice must be discontinued.
In addition, a school or school district must apply for an exemption from Chapter 12 of the Iowa Administrative Code each year the gender segregated program is in place showing that the above conditions have been met. The exemption request form is available at http://educateiowa.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=483&Itemid=530#General%20Accreditation%20Standards or by contacting Del Hoover, Deputy Division Administrator at 515-281-8402.