We Can Do It- Overcoming Barriers

We Can Do It- Overcoming Barriers

A 2017 study from the National Women’s Law Center looked into the challenges that face girls of color in achieving their education. Researchers surveyed over 1,000 girls ages 14 to 18 to learn about their experiences with law enforcement and exposure to sexual violence, among other things. A few key points were eye-opening:

§  Nearly 1 in 5 girls identifying as Black (19%) and LGBTQ (18%) reported experiencing homelessness.

§  More than half of girls identifying as Latina (55%) said they are worried that a friend or family member will be deported.

    • Almost a quarter of the same girls (24%) reported being harassed because of their name or family’s origin. 

§  Nearly half of girls (46%) identifying as Asian or Pacific Islander reported being called a racial slur—higher than any other group of girls.

§  Girls of color are shown to be suspended from school 5.5 times more (3.5 times more in Iowa), and expelled 2.5 times more than White girls.

§  Girls of color with disabilities are 3.5 times more likely to be suspended than White girls with disabilities.

§  Almost half (47 %) of high schools with 90 % or more students of color have at least one law enforcement officer, compared to just under a third (31 %) of high schools with 90 % or more White students.

These types of trauma experienced by girls of color affect both mental and physical health, as we know from research including Iowa ACEs 360. Also affected is ability to concentrate, feel safe, stay in school, and do well academically.

Despite these barriers, researchers found that girls of color are have strong resiliency skills, want to succeed in school, and want to go to college. The report provides recommendations for a range of constituents to help girls of color stay in school, including training for teachers and administrators, involving diverse female mentors, review discipline policies, and evaluate the school environment.

Girls themselves related what would help them overcome barriers and be successful in school: 

  • More than 9 in 10 girls (91%) want schools to help them apply to college.
  • More than 8 in 10 girls (83%) want schools to train teachers and staff to recognize signs of trauma or mental illness.
  • Nearly 8 in10 girls (79 %) want schools to encourage them to take classes in math and science.
  • Nearly 8 in10 girls (77%) want schools to share information about how they can report discrimination and harassment.
  • Nearly 8 in 10 girls (77%) want access to a crisis counselor.

Chrysalis After-School programs, and the training we provide to program facilitators and high school mentors, deliver this type of help. CAS provides a safe space for girls to share with others, feel a sense of belonging, develop trust and confidence, and be involved with a caring adult – all factors in helping girls overcome the many challenges they face, particularly girls of color.