A GROUP of parents is to take Glasgow City Council to court, claiming their sons are suffering sex discrimination because of the council's refusal to allow boys to attend Notre Dame High School for Girls, in the Dowanhill area of the city.

Notre Dame Parents Action Group, whose sons currently attend the co-educational, Catholic Notre Dame Primary School, are seeking legal aid to raise an action for judicial review of the council's position.

An opinion written for the group by senior counsel Lord Mackay of Drumadoon suggests that by operating Notre Dame High as the only single-sex educational establishment within the authority, the council is acting in a manner which amounts to sex discrimination.

The group's lawyer, Mr Austin Lafferty, said the action would be raised in the

name of one or more of the boys suffering the effects of this discrimination.

The move is the latest in a long-running campaign by families who want boys as

well as girls to be able to attend Notre Dame High.

Last year, the education department asked the council to open consultations on

a proposal to make the school co-educational. The council, however, rejected the proposal, despite the Labour Group executive's support for the change - a move widely interpreted as avoiding a potentially damaging confrontation with the Catholic Church and the Muslim community in Glasgow, both of which support

Notre Dame's girls-only status.

Mr Lafferty said yesterday: ''We intend to challenge the council's action and inaction in failing to meet the legitimate aspirations, needs and rights of their own citizens.

''The council have politely acknowledged my letters but I have had nothing substantial by way of response, in spite of imposing a fair deadline on the council for a response.

''I would rather settle this matter by successful negotiation, but I have advised my clients that if the council are not willing to come forward and listen and meet and discuss, then they will find themselves in court


themselves to a judge.''

He added that the use of anti-discrimination laws in such circumstances was ''pretty ground-breaking''.

A spokesman for the council said it had outlined its position in a letter to



He added that the current council would be standing down in a month's time and

that it was now in an election period, therefore the matter could not be


formally through council committees.

He said: ''On the issue of sex discrimination, our view is that we have not


a request over the last three years from a parent seeking provision of a single sex boys' school, so how can we be accused of sex discrimination?''

The council spokesman added that as the law stood, the council was quite justified in providing a single sex girls' school.

The action group, however, believes its campaign is given legal authority by its senior counsel's opinion that schoolboys in Glasgow receive from the council less favourable treatment than girls.

The counsel's opinion adds: ''... when an education authority provides single-sex education for girls, but not for boys, that education authority is acting prima facie in a manner which constitutes sex discrimination.''

It continues: ''In Glasgow, no reasonable efforts are being made by the


to provide schoolboys with the same chance of enjoying single-sex education, as schoolgirls have.

''That fact deprives the Glasgow City Council of any argument that they are


knowingly maintaining an education system which inevitably discriminates against boys.''

However, sources within the council suggest this amounts to an argument that


should provide another single-sex secondary school for boys, not that it is under an obligation to open its existing girls-only secondary to boys.