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Gender Empowerment

Ensuring and Protecting Opportunities for Girls, Women and LGBTQ+ Students and Educators
Join together to break down barriers to educational and professional success so that women, girls, and all people who face gender discrimination can achieve their full potential.

How to use this toolkit

  • Read about the importance of supporting and protecting and ensuring opportunity for girls and women, take action, and get involved with the movement
  • Learn how to talk about this issue effectively and respectfully, particularly with those who think differently
  • Explore resources to help you learn more about gender equality
  • Find art to help you communicate

Safe learning for all


All students deserve equal access to educational opportunities no matter their color, gender, or whom they love. However, girls, women and LGBTQ+ youth often face barriers that threaten their success in school and beyond. Girls of color are more likely than white girls to face unfair discipline. And sexual harassment and violence in school are problems that confront most all girls and LGBTQ+ youth. The statistics are grim:

  • Black girls are 5.5 times more likely to be suspended from school as white girls. 

  • Schools suspend American Indian/Alaskan Native girls at more than three times the rate of white girls and at a higher rate than white boys. 

  • Latina girls are 1.6 times more likely to be suspended than white girls. 

Across the country, educators are working to ensure safe and equitable classrooms, free from bias and discrimination. Women, girls, and all people who face gender-based discrimination are calling their elected officials, raising their voices, and organizing in the streets to put in place policies that help them achieve their potential. Use this toolkit to learn more about the issues and how you can join educators, students, families, and allies to mobilize and advocate for policies and practices that support the needs of all students, regardless of gender.


How we speak about issues is of critical importance in activism. Use these narratives for creative and social media content, visuals, public messages, calls to action, spokesperson materials, and more.

3 Key Narratives

Double Standards in Discipline

Girls are the largest growing juvenile justice population in the United States—often as a direct result of being disproportionately disciplined or suspended from school. These uneven rates of discipline are not because of more frequent or serious misbehavior. Instead, race and gender bias informs unfair discipline. 

Building on Title IX

Women, girls, and LGBTQ+ people continue to experience discrimination and sexual harassment. Although federal Title IX protections requiring schools to address sexual harassment still remain in effect, many state laws and school policies need revision to ensure an equitable and safe learning environment for girls. Use the resources below to effect change in your school and state. 

A Need for More Female Leadership in Schools

Despite the fact that three quarters of the nation’s K-12 teachers are women, and the majority of education support professionals are women as well, less than a quarter of school superintendent posts are held by women. As with many “pink collar” professions, the lack of representation of women in the highest leadership positions can undermine effective efforts to identify and address discrimination and harassment against women in heavily majority-female workplaces.

A male and female student ascend a staircase in a school

Decoding Dress Codes

Studies confirm that nearly all K-12 public school districts have restrictive dress codes that impact female students, students of color, and LGBTQ+ students more than their classmates. Learn more and find guidance on creating equitable dress codes.

Advocating for Equality

Many state laws and school policies need revision to ensure an equitable and safe learning environment for girls. Use the resources below to effect change in your school and state.
A young girl writes code on a laptop

Bullying and Sexual Harassment Trainings

NEA offers professional learning on bullying prevention, including prevent student-to-student cyberbullying, sexual harassment, and sexting.
american indian girls chat at school

Advancing Gender Justice

The National Women’s Law Center created this resource for state and local legislators and advocates fighting for equality and opportunity for women and girls.

Putting a Stop to 'Pushout'

The National Women’s Law Center's Let Her Learn: A Toolkit to Stop Pushout of Girls of Color helps educators and schools find out if your discipline policy treats girls of color fairly.
Title IX at 50

What to Know About the Proposed Title IX Regulations

The civil rights law has protected millions of girls and women from discrimination; now the Biden administration's new Title IX rules would help fulfill the promise of this landmark legislation by making all forms of sex discrimination and sex-based harassment illegal.

Ensure Fairness and Opportunity for Women at Work

About three-quarters of U.S. public school teachers are women. On average, women still earn just 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, with women of color receiving even less. At the same time, many women continue to face harassment and discrimination in their places of employment. Use these resources to help ensure equity for women at work.
know your rights

Know Your Rights: Harassment and Discrimination

NEA created this toolkit to help members identify and respond to discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
NEA officers participate in a march for gender equality

Take Action on Women’s Rights

As a nation, we’ve made great strides in the fight for equality. But there’s still a way to go. Stay up to date on the latest federal advocacy actions to ensure gender equity in the workplace and to address violence against women.
stressed teacher

Gender Justice at Work

The National Women's Law Center offers this roadmap for eliminating discriminatory practices in the workplace.
A confident woman speaks at a podium

Empowering Women Leaders

Thousands of educators have reaped the benefits of NEA's Women's Leadership Training Program (WLTP), including experienced women leaders serving at the highest local, state and national positions. The WLTP is designed to meet the needs of new and emerging leaders just beginning to participate in union advocacy and activism.

Are you an affiliate?

Jump to updates, opportunities, and resources for NEA state and local affiliates.
Becky Pringle at an immigration rally with a bullhorn

Speak Up For Students and Public Schools

When we act together and lift our voices together in unison, we can improve the lives of children.
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.