School discipline policies and dress codes can be rooted in racist and sexist stereotypes that disproportionately harm girls of color, especially Black girls. 

 Adultification bias is a particularly harmful stereotype where people see Black girls as: 

  • Older than they are 
  • Disruptive and defiant 
  • Less innocent than their white peers 
  • Less in need of care or protection than their white peers 

Due to adultification bias, Black girls can be punished more often and more harshly for normal, age-appropriate behavior. This happens most often when teachers and school administrators can discipline students for things like “being disrespectful” or “having an attitude,” which have no clear definition. This also happens even though studies show that Black girls are not more likely than other students to misbehave in school. 

Compared to white girls, Black girls are: 

  • 4x more likely to be suspended 
  • 4x more likely to be expelled 
  • 3x more likely to have the police called on them in school 
  • 4x more likely to be arrested in school