If a Male Student Sues for Gender Discrimination, Will the Media Report It?

January 27th, 2006 10:32 AM

On Sunday, as reported by NewsBusters, Newsweek did a cover story on what it referred to as a “Boy Crisis.” The article detailed “why” girls are doing so much better than boys in school. In an interesting twist, the Associated Press reported this Wednesday evening (hat tip to the American Thinker):

“A senior boy at Milton High School has filed a federal civil rights complaint contending that his school discriminates against boys by making it easier for girls to succeed academically.

“Doug Anglin, in his complaint filed last month with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, claimed girls faced fewer restrictions from teachers and boys are more likely to get punished.”

The article continued:

“‘The system is designed to the disadvantage of males,’ Anglin, 17, told The Boston Globe. ‘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.’

“Girls outnumber boys almost 2 to 1 on the Milton High honor roll, and almost 60 percent of the students in Advanced Placement classes are female, according to information provided by school officials.”

Potentially more surprising than the story itself is this apparent blackout the media are giving it. A Google news search identified only 40 results for the name Doug Anglin, with nine of them emanating from New England area media outlets. A LexisNexis search identified that not one of the major television media outlets, or NPR, had reported this story through Thursday.

Yet, maybe the most curious dissemination of this issue appeared at the ABC News website where reporter Adrienne Mand Lewin spun the story as an affirmation as to why boys do poorly in school, and cited “experts” to support her contention. The headline gave the reader a foreshadowing of the direction this piece would go: “Can Boys Really Not Sit Still in School? Experts Say Biology Makes It Harder for Boys to Behave.” After relaying much of the previous AP article, Lewin moved into spin mode by referencing opinions of folks who agreed with the merits of Anglin's complaint, but not that it has anything to do with the education system:

“‘I think he's got it basically right, although I don't believe the system was set up purposely to hurt boys,’ said William Pollack, director of the Centers for Men and Young Men at McLean Hospital of Harvard Medical School.

“Pollack and others noted that in general young boys in kindergarten and first grade are not able to behave as well as girls due to biological and social differences. He said that up until fifth grade, boys require five to seven recesses a day, though most get just one. ‘With a boy who squirms, you take away his recess,’ he said, ‘so then he either acts out and we say he's a discipline problem, or he's very active and we say he has hyperactivity.’

“Kathy Stevens, co-author of ‘The Minds of Boys’ and director of training at the Michael Gurian Educational Institute, said boys' physical composition makes them learn differently than girls.

“‘That's a biological predisposition,’ Stevens said. ‘Take a little boy who's a year to a year-and-a-half behind developmentally. Sitting down, listening, learning to write the alphabet are going to be more difficult for them in a traditional setting.’”

The article then suggested that boys who do well in school are doing so contrary to their natural predisposition: “Pollack and Stevens acknowledge that many boys excel in school and thrive in the classroom. But they say they may have to overcome their natural urges to do so.”

Imagine that. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how the media respond to this story in the coming days.