“And they cared”: How to Create Better, Safer Learning Environments for Girls of Color

TOO LOUD. TOO ASSERTIVE. TOO SEXUALLY PROVOCATIVE. TOO DEFIANT. TOO ADULT-LIKE.

by Kayla Patrick, Adaku Onyeka-Crawford, Nancy Duchesneau, and Nancy Duchesneau

All across the country, girls of color are excluded from school for subjective offenses like these, missing out on critical class time and opportunities to learn. Black girls face some of the greatest barriers to educational opportunities because of racial and gender biases embedded within school discipline policies, dress codes, and codes of conduct that target their cultural identity.

These biases manifest as punishments that have more to do with who these girls are rather than what they do. During the current uncertainty of a global pandemic and the beginning of a historic public reckoning on racism in the United States, school districts are at a turning point in which they must make intentional and specific policy and financial decisions to address the legacy of 400 years of systemic anti-Blackness that is folded in our nation’s fabric.

To help districts and schools do this critical work, The Education Trust partnered with the National Women’s Law Center to develop a new guide to respond to this moment and provide decision-makers with a common language and practices that can be used to reform exclusionary discipline policies and improve school climate to help address the needs of girls of color.

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