White House Leads Effort To Support Girls Of Color In School

By Duchess Magazine

A group of advocates for girls of color are shining a national spotlight on the challenges these students face in the K-12 system.

On Monday, the White House’s Council on Women and Girls hosted a conference titled “Trauma-Informed Approaches in School: Supporting Girls of Color and Rethinking Discipline.” The U.S. Department of Education, Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, and National Crittenton Foundation co-hosted the event.

It focused on providing services and support to an often overlooked demographic. The organizers underscored that girls of color, despite progress, still face disproportionate barriers in high academic achievement.

Black girls represent just 8 percent of students, yet they account for 14 percent of out-of-school suspensions, according to Education Department data.

The conference, attended by representatives from 23 school districts and nonprofit partners, also called attention to sexual trauma these girls often encounter. According to a Centers for Disease Control survey in 2012, approximately 10 million girls experienced rape or attempted rape.

Title IX requires school systems to respond to allegations of sexual assault. The law requires K-12 school districts to support sexual assault victims and to ensure these students receive equal educational opportunities. Failure to provide services, all too often, results in academic problems for the victims.

The organizers announced several tools to enable school districts to fulfill their obligations under Title IX.

One tool is the Education Department’s Safe Place to Learn. It’s an online, interactive package for creating a positive school climate and healthy learning environment. The resource package includes guidance, e-learning training modules, and information about trauma sensitivity.

Another resource comes from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The task force provides a document to guide school districts that plan to assemble a multi-disciplinary team to develop sexual misconduct policies.

Georgetown University offers a third resource. The school’s Center on Poverty and Inequality will build on Monday’s conference by hosting in-depth workshops on how to create trauma-informed schools.

SOURCE: Dept of Education | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

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