New Report Focuses on Disparities in School Discipline Faced by Black Girls

In recent years there has been several studies on racially disproportionate punishment in the nation’s schools. Now a new report from the African American Policy Forum and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia Law School focuses on the inequality in discipline faced by Black girls.

Among some of the findings of the report are:

* The racial disparity in discipline is often wider for girls than it is for boys. The authors note that “while Black girls and Black boys share a common racialized risk of punishment in school, Black girls face a statistically greater chance of suspension and expulsion compared to other students of the same gender.”

* Increased levels of security and the presence of law enforcement officers on school grounds may negatively impact attendance levels of Black girls.

* Pregnancy and parenting responsibilities of Black teenage girls can stigmatize these students and can result in their educational needs being ignored.

* Zero-tolerance policies may exacerbate the vulnerability of Black girls to harassing behavior because it penalizes them for defending themselves against such acts.

* Black girls sometimes get less attention than their male counterparts early in their school careers because they are perceived to be more socially mature and self-reliant. The lack of attention can lead to “benign neglect.”

The full report, authored by a team of researchers led by Professor Kimberle Crenshaw of Columbia Law School and the UCLA School of Law, is entitled Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected. It may be downloaded here.

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