The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital (ACLU-DC) have released a report, Leaving Girls Behind: An analysis of Washington D.C.’s “Empowering Males of Color” Initiative The report, which summarizes the results of a Freedom of Information Law request, focuses on the exclusion of women and girls from the programming launched under this new, $20 million initiative.

Despite statistics showing that girls of color in Washington D.C. are suffering from many of the same serious educational disparities facing boys of color, the programs launched under this initiative appear to be open almost exclusively to boys, with no plans for any similar programming for girls. While the report commends the Mayor and the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) for directing critically-needed attention and resources toward some of the District’s most underserved students, it also points to significant legal vulnerabilities in the exclusion of girls of color from these programs, and recommends that the programming be opened to girls going forward.

“Though the Mayor and DCPS are right to address the racial disparity gap in education, they chose to exclude girls from the solutions,” said Monica Hopkins-Maxwell, ACLU-DC executive director, “Extensive review of DCPS data and research provide no justification for this decision. In fact, some of the sources cited by DCPS actually caution against single-sex programs.”

The ACLU and the African American Policy Forum are also seeking to connect with parents and family members of African American and Latino children in Washington DC public schools to hear their feelings, views and attitudes on educational opportunities for girls in Washington DC. Email to connect with us.