Wednesday, April 26, 2017, Washington, D.C. — After a year of researching and listening to girls, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) published their findings in a series of reports titled Let Her Learn: Stopping School Pushout to address the pushout of girls from schools across the US. These reports include new data from a nationwide survey of 1,000 girls ages 14-18, including original data on girls of color, sexual violence, homelessness and the experiences of LGBTQ girls.
An event was held at Busboys and Poets, a famous community gathering place in Washington, D.C., on April 26th to publicize the release of the report series. CNAY staff attended the Let Her Learn event to learn more about the school pushout issue. Featuring local education and civil rights leaders, as well as young women student leaders attending Trinity Washington University, the event consisted of two panel discussions focused on the disparities faced by girls of all backgrounds and identities and solutions to improve outcomes.
Speakers from the first panel, which included women leaders working for LGBTQ girls, girls experiencing sexual violence, girls with disabilities, discussed some of the barriers faced by these populations. The speakers were especially careful to note that these identities and backgrounds can and will often intersect, and how barriers are particularly harder for girls of color. For instance, girls of color — including Native girls — who end up in the foster care system, have a higher chance of suffering from sexual violence and are more susceptible to becoming victims of human trafficking. “[In the foster care system] they learn that their worth is tied to money,” says Yasmin Vafa who is the executive director for Rights4Girls. While current outcomes may seem grim for now, the women leaders on the panel showed that there are those fighting to pave the way for equal rights and treatment for all girls.
The second panel focused primarily on solutions, current and proposed, to barriers to success for girls in school. It featured former US Secretary of Education John King, current Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon, as well as representatives from the Center for the Study of Social Policy and National Indian Education Association (NIEA). Speaking for Native Students, Dimple Patel of NIEA highlighted the importance of acknowledging the checkered history of the US education system for Native populations. She also spoke about the importance of including education of Native cultures and history for all students in order to keep Native students invested and engaged in school. USCCR Chair Lhamon ended the discussion with an empowering statement telling everyone, especially young girls in the audience that “each of us have the capacity to say our truths and advocate for ourselves. We don’t have to accept ‘no.'”
For more information, you can view and download NWLC’s reports on the school pushout issue below:
- Girls who have suffered harassment and sexual violence
- Pregnant and parenting girls
- Girls who identify as LGBTQ
- Girls with disabilities
- Girls of color
- Girls involved in the juvenile justice system
- Girls in foster care
- Girls who have experienced homelessness