Girls Inc. of West Contra Costa County

Fellow: Cristal Banagan

Grant Year: 2019

Location: West Contra Costa County, California, United States

Organization: Girls Inc. of West Contra Costa County

Project Title: Girls Speak 2019!

Project Summary: A Girls Inc. national research report indicated that 1 in 4 young women experience sexual assault before the age of 18. Nearly half (48%) of 7th-12th-grade students reported experiencing sexual harassment in the previous school year. Beyond the immediate emotional and physical pain of being violated, girls who experience sexual harassment and violence also have a higher risk of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, headaches, stomach aches, sleeplessness, chronic pain, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sexual assault can also impact a young person’s academic success; without support, students may withdraw from classes or activities and lose access to critical educational opportunities. With the aim of combating harmful attitudes and behaviors towards young girls, Girls Inc. National launched the #GirlsToo campaign to focus on girls’ experiences and build conversations to address the root causes of sexual harassment.

Girls Inc. believes education is the strongest weapon used for change and thus they will advocate for the superintendent and school board of West Contra Costa Unified School District to establish quarterly community workshops inviting girl and community leaders, school administration, and parents to build awareness and draft effective policy and implementing guidelines to reduce sexual harassment in schools. In the project’s first year, Girls Inc. of West Contra Costa County — alongside a 10-member advocacy group led by young girls — will impact over 5,000 community members including students, parents, staff, and district and aims to create a culture that does not tolerate sexual harassment and violence, and in which girls are valued, safe, and respected.