Fostering Inclusive & Supportive Environments for all students

Educational Equity for Women and Girls

All students deserve equal access to educational opportunities. However, girls and women often face structural barriers that threaten their success in school and beyond. Girls of color are more likely than white girls to face unfair discipline. And sexual harassment and violence in school are problems that confront most all girls. Read below to learn how educators, students and allies are mobilizing and advocating for policies and practices that support the needs of all students — regardless of gender.

Combatting Sexual Harassment and Violence

While under threat of being weakened, full Title IX protections requiring schools to address sexual harassment still remain in effect. However, under the new student-driven sexual harassment policy adopted in Oakland, there will be a designated point person in each school to handle sexual harassment and assault complaints, and the reporting process for students, educators and parents has been clearly delineated.

Before, the district had just one person, the district’s ombudsperson, who was responsible for all sexual harassment and assault complaints in the entire system. Another major change was getting rid of language that suggested that a victim may be penalized for reporting sexual harassment.

Sample Policy: 

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Additional Information:

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Educators weigh in on ending school-to-prison pipeline for girls of color

Educators in the classroom have a wealth of experience and insight to share in the development of policies that impact equity and opportunities for their students. It is no surprise that national organizations often seek to partner with educators to get their take on the practical application of policy proposals.

“Teachers are on the frontline—they are the first responders in the classroom who sound the alarm when they see what is happening. They spend the most time with kids and know them best, and they can ground the conversation about solutions in what is possible. They know what is realistic- top down policies don’t work,” said Kayla Patrick, Public Policy Fellow at the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), who facilitated dialogues with teachers at the NEA Conference on Racial and Social Justice in Boston.

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The NWLC sought the feedback of educators at the Conference in Boston as they were workshopping policy solutions to address the issue of the disproportionately high rate at which girls of color are suspended and pushed out of school compared to their white peers.

You can see the rate at which girls of color are suspended in your state and district here.

The NWLC was able to open a dialogue around promising trends and policies that can disrupt the school to prison pipeline and draw out some nuance through the conversations. Below are some highlights that educators offered during the discussions:

  • When asked about policy around suspension, educators were unanimously in favor of eliminating suspension for nonviolent offenses.
  • Participants felt that addressing defiance and respect in our schools is very subjective and to address the underlying issues educators need to be at the table to develop dialogue and training.
  • Participants felt strongly that the presence of police officers in schools creates a direct pathway into the juvenile justice system. There was general concern around the power of Student Resource Officers (SROs) and that they are too often used to control and arrest instead of mediate and deescalate. Participants felt it was important for SROs to receive mandatory child-centered training.
  • On the issue of dress code and school climate, participants felt that policies were inequitably enforced for girls, and that they often failed to respect culture and religion.
  • Policies around pregnant and parenting students brought out the disparity in services offered to wealthier school districts versus high-poverty districts.

“Having the opportunity to engage in conversations with educator activists who are trying some of these ideas out in the classroom allowed us to workshop some of these policy solutions,” said Nia Evans, Engagement and Mobilization Associate at NWLC.


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Facebook Live Panel Focuses on #MeToo at School

As we see more real public dialogue about sexual harassment in the workplace, and some growing accountability for perpetrators, what about #MeToo at school? How can school administrators, educators, students and parents contribute to these discussions and address these issues at school?

View the archive of our Facebook Live event, when Myerson was joined by NEA Press Officer Michelle Hudgins and Elizabeth Tang of the National Women’s Law Center for a lively discussion of these questions.

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Take Action! Find resources and information below to help your school empower girls, end sexual harassment and assault, and protect students’ civil rights

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Standing Up for Gender Equity

Across the country women, girls, and all people who face gender-based discrimination are calling their elected officials, raising their voices in the Me Too movement, and organizing in the streets to break down barriers to their success and put in place policies that help them achieve their potential. With the Administration attacking civil rights and Congress stuck in gridlock, states and cities are leading the effort to empower women and girls.

In July 2018, the National Women’s Law Center released its State Playbook for Gender Equity, a new resource for state and local legislators and advocates fighting for equality and opportunity for women and girls at school, at work, at home, and in their communities.

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Take Action

Building Power in Our Communities

Ready to get active and be the superhero our students deserve in the fight for racial, social and economic justice in public education? Then join the NEA EdJustice League!




Dress Coded

In "Dress Coded," the National Women’s Law Center and 21 black girls who live in D.C. expose common problems with D.C. dress codes, discusses their impact on students and propose better policies.

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Ed. Equity & Girls

Produced by the Oakland-based Alliance for Girls, the "Meeting the Needs of Girls" toolkit highlights the stories of girls of color who share how to improve equity in Oakland schools.

View the PDF

Women Rising

NEA's "Women Rising: A Guide to Your Rights at Work" provides overview of the federal and state law protections that apply to women in the workplace, as well as guidance for taking action.

View the Guide