This week, we’re celebrating International Women’s Day, so many private schools are probably raising awareness about women’s survival and also the rampant and shameless crimes against women throughout the world, such as human trafficking, rape used as a weapon of war in places like Congo, Uganda and Somalia, unequal access to education for girls, and so forth. It’s important to study these vivid examples of the wretched situations of girls and women in so many developing countries. But these examples can unintentionally send the message that the issues faced by American girls are insignificant. A good school should also focus on the entrenched and systemic discrimination and harassment against women and girls existing in all areas of the country, including our local private schools. This discrimination can seem even more appalling because many of these very schools contribute to the slow degradation of female empowerment while claiming to provide an education that is based on values, integrity and character.
I have cautioned the readers of this blog that basic Title IX rights simply do not apply for your daughters in any DC metropolitan private school and that parents should care deeply about how their daughters will be treated on a daily basis in a school that does not have to adhere to the legal principles of equity for women and girls in an educational setting. 
Remember we live in a free market economy and a private school is a business that has no financial interest in conforming to regulations and rules that will not promote the bottom line. Parents at private schools should be careful to maintain an objective perspective of their school and honor their responsibility to call the school out when it falls short of fair treatment for girls and women.
Here is a perfect example. A Maryland Quaker school community received this letter from the local chapter of the celebrated activist group National Organization for Women (NOW). As you can see the school was recently chastised for its portrayal and treatment of girls. The school even appears to terminate employees who speak out for change in the community, which is protected speech under federal law.Certainly many Quaker educators boast, “Speak Truth to Power!” as they cite a proud history of antiwar protest and nonviolent direct action. But, it seems at this particular school, speaking truth to power was not acceptable where powerful men disrespected women and girls with impunity.
America exists in a perpetual culture of silence that applies particularly to the mistreatment of women. Issues such as sexual harassment, bullying, rape, and abuse go unmentioned because these topics make people uncomfortable. Those who do bring the issues into the light are regarded negatively because they are breaking down the wall. In addition to celebrating women, this is what International Women’s Day is about. Let’s stop telling our daughters to be modest, polite, sweet “quiet givers.” Let’s tell them to be confident, brave, and to not be afraid to speak out against oppression as a key part of their educational experience. It is only when we examine our own behavior that we can face the problems that exist in the rest of the world.
Days such as International Women’s Day are for us to consider the sphere in which girls and women exist in all places throughout the world—even those places where we might not suspect inequity exists. In America, our elite private schools are supposed to be training the best and the brightest, but parents must safeguard the learning environment for our children so that independent school teachers can reasonable do their work and protect and serve.
It is certainly reassuring to know that nonprofit groups, such as NOW, are doing their part in a democratic society and serving as a watchdog to guard spaces where girls and women may face mistreatment. It also a valuable reminder that a parent’s job to vigilantly protect the space where their children spend their days is never done.
1. Here is another post discussing gender equity