Glasgow City Council is currently being sued by ten-year-old Neil Fitzpatrick and his mother, Anne, over claims that he was being sexually discriminated against by not being allowed to attend Notre Dame High School in Dowanhill, one of the city’s top schools.This case raises several issues. The owner of any business - including a school - should be free to discriminate on any grounds whatsoever. So should customers. If an educational entrepreneur wishes to operate a girls-only school, so be it. Parents have no right to force the school owner to alter his terms of business, only to take their custom elsewhere. There does seems to be some evidence for the educational advantages of single-sex schooling, but that's not the real issue. What really matters is freedom.
But Notre Dame High School isn't run by an entrepreneur - it belongs to the City of Glasgow Council. Although I oppose state schooling it seems reasonable that properly elected councillors should be free to operate a single-sex school if they so decide and taxpayers' money should not be made available for lawsuits of this kind. It is however nonsensical for there to be separate Catholic and non-denominational state schools in Scotland. Not surprisingly, other religions are now seeking the establishment of their tax-financed schools.
The way round all of this is to take education out of the hands of government altogether and to return it to the people.
Besides, a ten-year-old lad is surely too young to want to be the only male pupil at a girls' school.