Youth activists and Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) identified six policy priorities that speak to the needs of Black girls nationwide. Policies that address the needs of Black girls will serve to address the human rights needs for all.
Expanding Education Justice & Opportunity
Black girls are nearly six times more likely to get out-of-school suspension than their white counterparts.
Black Girls need the civil rights protections that allow them to thrive and succeed through public education without the constraints of racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia.
Black girls across the United States are more likely to attend schools that are poorly funded or funded at inequitable rates. Black girls also experience disproportionate rates of school exclusion, school-based arrests, and surveillance. There must be a commitment to enhancing and protecting the civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination and punitive practices in schools, as well as a commitment to redistributing resources to ensure quality education is available to all students, regardless of where they live.
Healing, Well-Being & Reproductive Justice
Young women of color who live in poverty receive mental health treatment at less than one-third the rate of young white women living in poverty.
Black girls, women, and non-binary people need equitable access to health, family building, family planning, and well-being.
Black girls deserve to receive accurate information about sexual and reproductive health in their schools and communities, and they deserve to have autonomy over their bodies and reproduction. Black girls deserve access to culturally affirming mental health support and they deserve to live self-determined lives, which includes access to affordable mental health and physical health care.
Immigration and Racial Justice
Black immigrants make up 7% of the undocumented population, yet they are 20% of the deportations.
Black girls deserve to be free from the fear of family separation through deportation and have full access to basic human rights including health care and education, regardless of immigration status.
Families belong together regardless of their immigration status. Political leaders must commit to providing safety and pathways to opportunity for all people, regardless of their immigration status. Black women and girls who are immigrants are twice as likely to be uninsured. This is particularly harmful for migrants who live in states that have not expanded Medicaid. Black women and girls deserve to have access to quality health care, education, and job opportunities, without fear of prosecution or deportation.
Expanding Democracy for Young People
Black and Latinx voters in at least 23 states will experience stricter voting restrictions in the upcoming election due to the widespread voter suppression that has increased after part of the Voting Rights Act was dismantled.
Black girls need to be able to fully engage in the democratic process.
Black communities, women, and young people face long standing structural barriers to participation in the electoral process. There must be a commitment to fighting voter disenfranchisement, especially for marginalized communities. Young people’s voices should be valued in the political process. Young people should be able to pre-register to vote at age 16, and voting processes should be simple and accessible.
Ending Gender-Based Violence & Building Cultures of Consent
In 2011, 94% of murders of Black women were committed by someone they knew.
Black girls deserve to have lives that are unbridled by the fear of sexual or gender-based violence. Government must invest in the programs and organizations that provide healing, emotional support, housing, care, and advocacy for survivors of gender-based violence. Political leaders should value the safety, autonomy, and well-being of girls and women.
Passing a Black Girl Bill of Rights
Black girls deserve to live in a world that values them.
According to Girlhood Interrupted: the Erasure of Black Childhood, a groundbreaking report from Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, compared to white girls of the same age, people believe:
- Black girls need less nurturing
- Black girls need less protection
- Black girls need to be supported less
- Black girls need to be comforted less
- Black girls are more independent
- Black girls know more about adult topics
- Black girls know more about sex
Black girls deserve to live in a world that values them. Black girls created the Black Girls Bill of Rights to outline their inalienable rights and privileges that have been historically overlooked.
Epstein, R., Blake, J., González, T. (2017). Girlhood interrupted: The erasure of Black girls’ childhood. Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality.
Morris, M. (2016). Pushout: The criminalization of Black girls in schools. New York: The New Press, Print.
CDC (2019). Cited – Petersen, E., Davis, N., Goodman, D., Cox, S., Mayes, N., Johnston, E., Syverson, C., Seed, K., Shapiro-Mendoza, C., Callaghan W., Barfield, W. (2019). Vital signs: Pregnancy-related deaths, United States, 2011-2015 and strategies for prevention, 13 states 2013-2017. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 68(18);423–429
Black Girls Bill of Rights
At the historic Black Girl Movement Conference in 2016, Black girls from across the US gathered to imagine a world that values them and where all girls and women of color could contribute ideas to create a world that they would want to live in. This is their founding document.
Based on the United States Bill of Rights, we’ve created the Black Girls Declaration of Freedom and Humanity. It declares the rights and privileges that Black girls and women deserve in order to thrive in our contemporary society. Created in partnership with Black girls across the country, we will present our bill to the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls to advance issues and legislation important to the welfare of women and girls of African descent.
Every Black girl deserves:
- The right to education and information about African and Black history
- The right to express our blackness however we defines it without judgment
- The right to be safe and have our physical, emotional, and mental health honored, protected, and nurtured
- The right to real sex education, contraception, tampons, and pads
- The right to agency and control over our own bodies in every space
- The right to justice and reparations
- in response to harm and sexual assault
- when police officers murder people of color
- The right to play and have fun
- The right to community, sisterhood, and support from other girls
- The right to BE—exactly who we are, free from stereotypes and insecurity, our full unique selves