Girls in D.C.’s Wards 7 and 8 do not have equitable access to safe, challenging, and supportive learning environments, according to a new report released by Crittenton Services of Greater Washington. The report,Declare Equity for Girls, is based on focus groups with more than 70 girls and young women in Washington, D.C. about their experiences and needs, seeking to determine the major barriers to academic success for girls living in communities of concentrated disadvantage, and what can be done to reduce those barriers.

Crittenton Services of Greater Washington released the report at an event hosted by Kaiser Permanente of the Mid Atlantic States. The event featured a panel of young women who shared some of the solutions they’d like to see implemented, including trauma training for teachers, transportation to school, and smaller student to teacher ratios.

The report finds that girls and young women report that their school environments aren’t conducive to learning; girls don’t feel their challenges outside of school are recognized or supported by teachers or schools; girls feel unsafe and disrespected within their schools and larger communities; and these factors all contribute to high absenteeism, discriminatory discipline, and low academic achievement. The report also finds that girls are experiencing a “culture of passing” that leaves them underprepared for college.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia, President of the National Education Association said, “This report verifies what educators across the country have seen with their own eyes. Our girls who live in challenging circumstances need us to stand up for them! The obstacles of poverty, racism, lack of health care and housing can affect their lives forever. Equity in educational access and opportunity is a justice issue. Educators are thankful to Crittenton for this important report.”

The report, which also includes promising steps forward and recommendations, can be accessed here.