‘A Battle for the Souls of Black Girls’

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Discipline disparities between Black and white boys have driven reform efforts for years. But Black girls are arguably the most at-risk student group in the United States, the New York Times reports.

The disproportionate discipline rates of Black boys have long dominated discussions about the harmful effects of punitive discipline policies, but recent high-profile cases have begun to reframe the debate around the plight of Black girls.

In October of 2020, the Common Application for colleges and universities cited disproportionate discipline rates for Black girls in its decision to stop asking students to report whether they had been subject to disciplinary action, the story reads.

Statistically, Black boys have led the country in suspensions, expulsions and school arrests, and the disparities between them and white boys have been a catalyst for national movements for change. But Black girls’ discipline rates are not far behind those of Black boys; and in several categories, such as suspensions and law enforcement referrals, the disparities between Black and white girls eclipse those between Black and white boys, the New York Times reports.

A New York Times analysis of the most recent discipline data from the Education Department found that Black girls are over five times more likely than white girls to be suspended at least once from school, seven times more likely to receive multiple out-of-school suspensions than white girls and three times more likely to receive referrals to law enforcement. Black boys experienced lower rates of the same punishments compared with white boys.

In New York City, Black girls in elementary and middle school were about 11 times more likely to be suspended than their white peers in 2017, according to a report from the Education Trust-New York, a research and advocacy group. In Iowa, Black girls were nine times more likely to be arrested at school than white girls, according to a state-by-state analysis conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“We are in a battle for the souls of Black girls,” said Monique W. Morris, the executive director of Grantmakers for Girls of Color and author of the book “Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in School.”

Read the full story from the New York Times.

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