Rep. Ayanna Pressley Introduces Bill to Stop Criminalization of Black Girls

Black girls get school suspensions 7x more often than white girls.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) introduced a bill to help stop the criminalization of Black children.

The Ending Punitive, Unfair, School-Based Harm that is Overt and Unresponsive to Trauma (PUSHOUT) Act, which was co-sponsored by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn), will award federal grants and incentives to schools that ban unfair discipline practices. In doing so, it aims to stop discriminatory punishment against Black and brown students that worsen the “school to prison pipeline.”

Black girls get school suspensions 7x more often than white girls, and while Black children make up about 16% of all U.S. public school students, that also accounts for 40% of school suspensions.

The bill hopes to curb this by helping schools providing bias training, invest in counselors and social workers, and get rid of unfair discipline policies. To be eligible for the funds, schools have to ban suspensions and expulsions in all grades for being late or chronically absent, or for minor offenses like violating grooming policies.

“As someone who’s been directly impacted by the criminal injustice system, I am personally dedicated to reforming our system to one that makes good on the American promise of justice for all,” Pressley said. “When we discipline and detain our girls, we fail to see their humanity.”