School Climate: K-12

Girls and women of color, in particular, continue to lack equal access to educational opportunities at the K-12 level. We must address opportunity gaps in communities of color, acknowledging the ways that gender and race discrimination intersect to create unique barriers for girls and LGBTQ students of color. We should urge cities, towns, businesses and foundations to invest in providing opportunities for all children within these communities.

Solutions:
– Address opportunity gaps and foster inclusive school environments.
– Ensure that LGBTQ students are not discriminated against by educational institutions.
– Promote safety, diversity and inclusion through programs that teach about age-appropriate, comprehensive and medically accurate sexual education; healthy relationships; consent; harassment and bullying; as well as student empowerment programs that are culturally responsive, celebrate diversity (i.e., racial/ethnic, ability, religious, gender) and are LGBTQ-affirming.
– Reinforce and clarify school districts’ obligations to pregnant and parenting students under Title IX (e.g., to accommodate lactation needs) and encourage districts and Title IX Coordinators to assess and report whether expectant and parenting students have the resources they need to balance caregiving responsibilities while staying on track to obtain a diploma or degree.
– Make sure that schools are responsive to their students’ concerns about harassment and violence and implement effective prevention strategies.
– Stand against excessive and disproportionate discipline, which harms students of color in particular, by supporting conflict resolution and healthy communication programs and implementing restorative justice and positive behavior intervention.
– Decrease the presence of law enforcement in schools while increasing the presence of mental health professionals, guidance counselors and social workers.
– Disrupt the Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline, whereby girls—and particularly girls of color—are criminalized for their responses to violence and trauma
– Promote the development of community-based alternatives to detention to provide survivors of violence trauma-informed services and support to heal from their victimization and develop strong connections with positive supports in the community.

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