Sex and Gender Equity

IDRA EAC-South Technical Assistance

The IDRA EAC-South’s capacity-building technical assistance can help state and local education agencies in addressing inequities and desegregation issues impacting sex and gender equity. These issues may be self-identified or identified through an active school desegregation court order, an Office for Civil Rights resolution, or an investigation by a federal or state civil rights enforcement agency.

Among other benefits, promoting sex and gender equity can help schools ensure equal access to rigorous coursework, a healthier and safe learning climate, and high quality teaching.

To ask about the availability of services for your school or school district, complete an intake form.

How sex and gender equity may manifest itself in schools and possible technical assistance services

  • Underrepresentation of girls or girls of color in advanced science and math courses.
  • Overrepresentation of boys for school discipline.
  • More resources placed into male versus female sports.
  • Bullying and harassment of students who have self-identified or are perceived as being lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer.
  • Other activities, programs and services that treat students differently and inequitably based on sex and/or gender.

Examples of technical assistance and training available through the IDRA EAC-South

  • Assistance with responding to reports of sex and gender harassment
  • Developing surveys with schools to gauge student expectations and school climate
  • Analyzing local, relevant data to pinpoint areas of need
  • Examining desegregation and equity systemic issues
  • Reviewing and revising local policies to identify and remove systemic barriers
  • Developing targeted train-the-trainer plans for educators and administrators
  • Providing professional development to educators and administrators
  • Creating rubrics and turn-key tools
  • Establishing a local monitoring plan to ensure fidelity of implementation

See our resource page for tools on educational equity and gender. Highlights are below.

Article: Making Schools Safe Learning Havens for LGBTQ Students

by Stephanie Garcia, Ph.D., & Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., October 2019

LGBQT students face attacks and discrimination daily in schools – from outward aggression to implicit bias that makes their campus feel unwelcoming. In the United States, 60% of students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.

All students have the right to be safe in school and to have the support of educators to help them learn. Educators can create an anti-bias and safe learning environment through focused and strategic planning, professional development and adopting specific strategies. This article outlines four key areas for focus: reframing communication, analyzing school policies, confronting myths and stereotypes, and preventing and eliminating harassment and violence.

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Article: Discipline Strategies to Combat Faulty Assumptions that Target Black Male Youth

by Daryl V. Williams, Ed.D., October 2019

No student group is more or less likely to misbehave. But Black male students are punished more often and more severely in our nation’s schools. While only representing 8% of public school students, Black males account for 25% of students receiving out-of-school suspensions and 23% of students expelled

The use of exclusionary discipline like out-of-school suspension and expulsion results in reduced instruction time and negatively impacts students’ academic performance, including entry into the school-to-prison pipeline.

Alterative, non-exclusionary discipline strategies have better results for students and the school community. Strategies include incorporating restorative justice programs, improving the school climate, ensuring there are enough mental health professionals and counselors for students, expanding family and community engagement, and reviewing academic and instructional practices.


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Article: Strategies for Increasing Girls’ Participation in STEM

by Paula Johnson, Ph.D., & Michelle Vega, October 2019

The education environment girls experience shapes their interest and achievement in STEM. Stereotypes, gender bias, and the climate of science and engineering courses act as barriers to girls’ progress in STEM coursework.

This article offers numerous strategies for promoting STEM equity in the classroom. They range from providing female role models and mentors to having hands-on tools and opportunities to explore the many different STEM career pathways available to students in the future.


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Article: Five Best Practices that Add Women to the Equation – Preparing K-12 Girls for Mathematics

by Stephanie Garcia, Ph.D., & Kasia Razynska, May 2019

Though there have been strides made in the past 20 years involving young women in math, there are still enduring gender gaps. This article reviews current trends in the data and best practices for increasing girls’ performance and persistence in math from K-12.

Recommendations include removing harmful stereotypes, training teachers to provide constructive, meaningful feedback to allow students to revise their work, exposing girls to female role models with careers in mathematics, fostering girls’ own identities as young mathematicians, and connecting mathematics skills to real-world applications.

Promoting sex and gender equity can ensure equal access to rigorous coursework leading to a healthier school climate and high-quality teaching.

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Three Strategies for Engaging Girls in Math – Classnotes Podcast Episode 194

Over the last two decades, we’ve seen great improvements in engaging girls in math. They are as likely as males to calculus AB, statistics and chemistry. But they are less likely to take higher-level math courses and in college are much less likely to enroll in STEM fields.

In this episode, Dr. Stephanie Garcia and Kasia Razynska share three strategies for increasing girls’ performance and persistence through K-12 math. Stephanie is an IDRA education associate and Kasia Razynska is associate director of evaluation and continuous improvement for the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium.

Show length: 11:11 min

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eBook: Girls and STEM Education – Research Overview and Resources

IDRA developed this eBook is to explore the intersection between science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, particularly computer science, and girls. Historically, women and other minority students have been largely absent from STEM fields and classes (Girl Scout Research Institute, 2012; Anderson, 2018). This eBook covers statistics for girls and minority students in STEM, the growing technology-dependent labor market, current initiatives and organizations encouraging STEM, literature on how to support these promising students, and resources.

See eBook

3 Ways to Make Schools Safe for LGBTQ Students – Podcast Episode 189

Classnotes Podcast (January 15, 2019). Most parents and caregivers would agree that all students should be provided with the same opportunity to learn, grow and succeed at school. As adults and leaders in our communities, we can work together with our classroom teachers and school administrators to ensure our students can learn free from fear and are protected from discrimination, harassment and bullying. LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning) students face particular challenges in our classrooms 85% report facing verbal harassment, more than one in four are physically harassed at school, and half are threatened by their classmates.

Michelle Martínez Vega, IDRA technology coordinator, and Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., director of IDRA’s Texas Education CAFE Network project , discuss how parents can work with their schools to support LGBTQ students and their safety along the way.

Show length: 12:11 min.

Get info and listen

IDRA submitted comments in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed changes to Title IX federal policy that was created in 1972 to ensure non-discrimination of students based on gender.


Resources on Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying in Schools

As the use of social media and cell phones continues to expand and connect students more readily in important ways, so too does the rising threat of cyberbullying. Whether it concerns students “trolling” other students on Twitter because of their perceived gender, sending continuous text messages harassing a student because of their race, or posting repeated disparaging pictures implicating a student’s religion or immigration status on Instagram, cyberbullying comes in many forms.

See Resource List

Teacher Responsibilities in Supporting LGBTQ Students – Podcast Episode 184

Classnotes Podcast (August 16, 2018). Schools must be safe places for all children. LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning) students face particular challenges in our classrooms 85 percent report facing verbal harassment, more than one in four are physically harassed at school, and half are threatened by their classmates. Michelle Martínez Vega, IDRA technology coordinator, and Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., director of IDRA’s Texas Education CAFE Network project funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, discuss how teachers are pivotal to supporting the intelligence and uniqueness of each student while clearly blocking and deterring harm. They outline specific classroom actions and resources for educators. The IDRA EAC-South provides technical assistance and training to build capacity of local educators to serve their diverse student populations.

Show length: 12:23 min.

Get info and listen

Article: Three Approaches for Dismantling Discriminatory Discipline in Schools

by Paula N. Johnson, Ph.D., & José A. Velázquez, M.Ed., March 2019

In recent years, schools across the nation have moved toward resolving behavior issues that do not take the child out of the classroom – focusing on a “whole child” approach to student learning and success built on relationships and community.

The IDRA EAC- South has a three-pronged approach to addressing disparities in school discipline. First, technical assistance builds capacity to increase positive school climates through research-based services; second, revising discriminatory school discipline practices better aligns schools with the district’s tiers of support for behavior; and third, building capacity for effective family and parent engagement to improve relationships between all stakeholders.

As a result, districts we’ve worked with across the IDRA EAC- South region report lower rates of suspension and expulsion each year.

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Article: Red Flags Wave in Proposed Changes to Title IX – Gender Equity in Schools Needs Diligence not Relaxation

by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., February 2019

Several decades after Brown vs. Board of Education made segregation and institutionalized racism illegal, the Title IX amendment to federal education policy in 1972 began to throw a comparable light on gender and sexual identification injustices in our schools. Currently, the U.S. Department of Education has proposed changes to the rules for how schools handle sexual assault allegations.

IDRA does not support any proposed rules that reduce protection of students vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse and increase the freedom of abusers. During the public comment period, IDRA submitted a list of concerns based on our 45 years of working with educators, parents and children in underserved communities across the nation. This article concludes with recommendations for creating safe environments for all students.

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Article: Institutionalized Discrimination… Does it Exist in Your School

by David Hinojosa, J.D., April 2018

This article addresses how schools can identify institutionalized discrimination – discriminatory practices that manifest through behaviors, actions and policies of public institutions that target or exclude based on race, sex, gender, national origin, religion and disability, among others. This kind of discrimination can be difficult to stop because it often has a basis in patterns and practices from historical norms. David Hinojosa pinpoints three critical areas – expectations, school funding and curriculum – as starting points for schools to identify and correct their own discriminatory policies and practices.

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Classnotes Podcast Episode: STEAM Education for Every Child Part 1 –#152

Despite efforts across the nation over the last decade to increase STEM education for girls and minority students, the data show we’re not succeeding. Reports last year revealed that, in two states, not even one female student took the AP computer science test, for example. In 11 states, there were no African American students who took the test, and no Hispanic students took it in eight states. One initiative that is showing promise is to move from STEM to STEAM by integrating the arts into STEM work.

Get details and listen

Math educator, Paula Martin Johnson, M.A., an IDRA education associate discusses how STEAM strategies combine a content standard and an art standard, side-by-side. This gives students an opportunity to analyze and express the content learning, while drawing on their experience, making the abstract STEM concept concreate and real.

Paula is interviewed by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA senior education associate. Send comments to Sign up to receive free e-mail notices when new episodes are available. Show length: 14:20.

Listen now: STEAM Education for Every Child Part 1 – #152

Article: Addressing “Ecological Shock” – Supporting Refugee Students in School

by Kristin Grayson, Ph.D., and Hannah Sung, March 2018

Dr. Kristin Grayson and Hanna Sung address in this article how schools can support refugee students through building connections and fostering understanding. Educators and school stakeholders must understand the effects of trauma and the unique aspects that refugee students bring to the classroom.

Schools can pro-actively create a welcoming and positive learning environment to help these students cope with stress and fear by fostering community – bringing students in fully as members of their schools rather than isolating them. Building this positive learning environment requires a commitment to equity.

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Article: Sexual Harassment – Safe Learning Environments for All Students

by Michelle Martínez Vega, February 2018

This article provides information for educators to combat sexual harassment and identify and support students who have been harassed or abused. The United States is in the mist of a pivotal moment where survivors of sexual harassment and assault are coming forward in staggering numbers, and this heightened attention to prevent and address harassment extends to our schools.

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) commissioned research using a nationally representative sample of 2,064 public schools and found that eight in 10 students in grades eight through 11 experienced some form of sexual harassment at some time during their educational career. Practical solutions include knowing the signs that a student has been abused, acting when a student has been bullied, and following Title IX guidelines to prevent sex and gender-based harassment.

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Article: Equity and Justice for LGBTQ Students – Teacher Responsibilities

by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., and Michelle Martínez Vega, February 2018

This article provides information on teacher responsibilities for helping LGBTQ students feel comfortable and protected in school. Even though there have been genuine strides made by the LGBTQ community, there is plenty of work to be done. Hate-related violence against LGBTQ individuals resulting in death jumped a staggering 86 percent in 2017 over the previous year in the United States.

Teachers are pivotal not only in supporting students but also for creating equitable classroom settings where all students can feel safe while learning. IDRA’S EAC-South provides technical assistance and training for gender equity in schools, including protections and support for LGBTQ students.

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Article: Stem Pathways for Girls of Color – A Review of the Literature

by Paula Johnson, M.A., February 2016

Although women make up nearly half of the nation’s total labor community, they represent just over a quarter of the STEM workforce. Most research focused on increasing the number of minority women in STEM analyzes the impact of non-school-based summer programs on middle school girls’ perceptions and attitudes toward STEM.

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Paula Johnson, M.A., explores the research literature to highlight trends and identify areas needing further investigation.

Read article: Stem Pathways for Girls of Color: A Review of the Literature, by Paula Johnson, M.A., IDRA Newsletter, February 2016