GIBM Files Complaint Against Pacific Science Center
with Office of Civil Rights
March 14, 2021
In August of 2020, the Global Initiative for Boys & Men (GIBM) followed up on a request to look at the Pacific Science Center of Seattle and perceived discrimination against boys. The Pacific Science Center has been offering and continues to offer Coeducational and Girls Only courses and programming, but it does not offer Boys Only courses and programming.
In an attempt to encourage gender equality and equity, GIBM corresponded with Paul Chiocco (Vice President of Development) and Eleanor Bradley (Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Commercial Officer) to encourage the Pacific Science Center to offer Girls Only, Boys Only and Coeducational course offerings and programs. GIBM received the following email:
“The curriculum of our girls-only summer camps is designed to create safe spaces for exploration outside of traditional gender norms. However, we also know how important coed programming is for portraying female aptitude and success in STEM for their male peers, which is why none of our programming is exclusively girls and only 12 of the 251 virtual and in person summer camps we ran this summer were “girls-only. We would never, and have never excluded a boy from participating in these programs, should they have the interest.”
PSC attempts to distinguish “programs” from “courses” as a way to explain its “Girls-Only” courses. Despite its claims, PSC promotes and runs Girls Only programming and courses without providing Boys Only programming and courses.
Much of PSC’s rationale rests with the argument that fewer women are in STEM professions (specifically computer science) at the collegiate level, using selective data from the Washington State STEM Education Innovation Alliance to justify programs for children from grades two through eight.
What the Pacific Science Center fails to address is that women outnumber men in college by significant margins and outpaces boys in Advanced Placement courses according to the Office of Civil Rights Data Collection (OCRDC). While enrollment in higher education overall fell 2.5 percent in the fall, or by more than 461,000 students compared to the fall of 2019, the decline among men was more than seven times as steep as the decline among women, according to an analysis of figures from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center." Targeted OCRDC in Washington State reveals that boys and girls are practically equal in most Advanced Placement and other cohorts but that girls take more advanced placement courses overall, according to the latest update from the OCRDC in 2015-2016. And 54% of SAT/ACT test-takers in Washington State are females.
Why children, parents, and teachers should have the right to choose?
The Pacific Science Center cannot possibly know the career paths of children inspired by PSC programming and course offerings. There are certain advantages to single-sex and coeducational course offerings, but those decisions and experiences should rest with parents and their children and not predetermined by policies that discriminate on the basis of sex. Teachers should also have the opportunity to enjoy boys and girls in single-sex course offerings as well as coeducational settings.
Although PSC emphasizes supportive elements for girls, it fails to recognize that boys too need comparable learning environments that “boost confidence, build supportive friendships, and offer unique experiences” as equally as girls need them, particularly at a time when literacy deficits, suicide deaths, and fewer college opportunities are overwhelmingly male problems.
There is a rhetoric that girls are more welcome at PSC than boys and the selective programming, courses, imagery, and language reinforces that narrative. A simple google search that includes the words “girls and Pacific Science Center” will result in a number of clickable links. Follow up that search with the words “boys and Pacific Science Center” and the results are heartbreaking.
PSC uses flyers, web- pages, and banners specifically targeting girls and this may intimidate boys who may feel marginalized and whose parents may question the boy friendly nature of the Pacific Science Center programming and its pedagogical approach.
It's really about the kids
At the end of the day, it’s about children. Shouldn’t a group of 10-year-old boys have the same opportunity to experience a single-sex course offering with their friends? Or what about the pubescent boy who may be self-conscious? Or the boys who attend public schools and may never have the opportunity to experience a single-sex course offering?
PSC’s rationale for single-sex course offerings to inspire girls to pursue STEM professions does not take into consideration how single-sex course offerings may inspire boys to pursue predominately female professions such as elementary school education, where women account for 90% of the profession and is a much larger gap than the STEM professions. “Young Physicians” is one of PSC’s Girls Only offerings even though the American Association of Medical College reported 51% of medical school students in 2019 were female.
There are certain advantages to single-sex and coeducational course offerings, but those decisions and experiences should rest with parents and their children and not predetermined by policies that discriminate on the basis of sex.
Global Initiative for Boys & Men Files Complaint with Office of Civil Rights
Global Initiative for Boys & Men believes the Pacific Science Center should adhere to civil rights laws that “extend to all state education agencies, elementary and secondary school systems, colleges and universities, vocational schools, proprietary schools, state vocational rehabilitation agencies, libraries and museums that receive federal financial assistance” [bold my emphasis]. As an agency that has received an excess of 7.5 million in government grants, GIBM believes the Pacific Science Center should comply with state and federal laws.
Form year: 2017 / Received by IRS Dec 7, 2019
Part VIII Statement of Revenue
1(e) Government grants (contributions) = $1,689,332
Form year: 2016 / Received by IRS Oct 16, 2018 Part VIII Statement of Revenue
1(e) Government grants (contributions) = $2,124,904
Form year: 2015 / Received by IRS Oct 3, 2017
Part VIII Statement of Revenue
1(e) Government grants (contributions) = $3,798,011
After trying to work with the Pacific Science Center since August of 2020, GIBM consulted with legal counsel and filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights against the Pacific Science Center of Seattle for violating the Equal Protections Clause. GIBM also holds the position that boys and girls (and male and female teachers) should have the opportunity to experience Boys Only, Girls Only, and Coeducational experiences because it’s the right thing to do.
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