Last week at Girls Inc. of Alameda County’s Community Education Series panel, “Girls in the Era of Trump,” over 200 community members demonstrated their readiness to engage with the issues impacting girls. During the panel, leaders in our community discussed this critical point when girls face both new and continuing challenges at the local, state, and national levels. Jae Maldonado of Street Level Health Project highlighted how undocumented immigrants are being pushed further into the margins. Laura Polstein of Centro Legal de la Raza highlighted the increased need for information and “know your rights” presentations. Phyllida Burlingame of ACLU of Northern California highlighted the role that state and federal policy plays in shaping and protecting opportunities for girls. And Shannan Wilber of The National Center for Lesbian Rights highlighted the need to support LGBTQ youth within the juvenile justice system
At Girls Inc., we see these state and national issues impact our girls directly, every day. Many girls have undocumented parents being pushed out of the trusted places they rely on for work. Others are sole translators for their families— and have questions about their rights and how new policies will affect them and their caregivers. One of our girls who is undocumented has outstanding grades and wants to go to college, but doesn’t have access to the same scholarship opportunities as many of her peers. She wonders how she will make it work, and what will happen once she gets there.
Right now, we are all needed to make the world right for girls. Community members at the panel wrote down what they will do to support girls in your community— and their answers ranged from becoming a mentor, to investing in local nonprofits, to talking with their teenage sons about how to speak out against sexism and racism.
Girls Inc. is also taking action. This is a new time, and we recognize that being an organization for girls requires a new kind of work. As the evening’s final question from a teenage girl highlighted, those who are most impacted by these policies – children – aren’t yet able to vote. Girls Inc. will advocate for the policies that protect girls’ rights and ensure they feel safe and valued, and connect girls with resources they need to benefit from those policies. We will also promote community awareness, build our network of allies, and, as always, provide programs that recognize the inherent right of girls to grow up Strong, Smart and Bold. Let’s step forward together for girls.