Middle school playgorund inequity and segregation: Boys and girls separated by a thick, white line

When I was in middle school, kids still enjoyed a before-school and after-lunch recess. Two recesses in a single day is uncommon at any school nowadays. Any recess at the middle school level is virtually unheard of in today’s world. But get this:

A.F. Maloney Middle School (formerly my father’s high school), located on Main Street in Blackstone, MA (now the site of the town library), featured a hardtop playground behind the ancient, brick building that was divided by a thick white line, segregating girls from boys.

asphault white line

We could stand on opposite sides of the line to chat, but no intermingling of boys and girls was allowed.

In addition, a large strip of grass and dirt running the length of the hardtop  was reserved for the boys as well, since the boys theoretically needed the room for football, soccer, and other such athletic endeavors. This additional space made the boy’s playground more than twice as large as the girl’s and also gave us access to a stream running along the edge of the playground, around which we were also allowed to play.

I like to think that I’m still pretty young, but this scenario sounds as if it comes from a different century. Doesn’t it?

I remember thinking as a kid that even the boys and girls on Little House on the Prairie were allowed to play together. Why could Laura Ingalls and Willie Oleson play together, but I had to be separated from every girl in my class?

Could you imagine such conditions existing in today’s world?