Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education


International & Multicultural Education EdD

First Advisor

Shabnam Koirala-Azad

Second Advisor

Susan Katz

Third Advisor

Patrick Camangian


A gap exists in both research and practice when it comes to issues related to girls within the school-to-prison pipeline. Girls are also often ignored in the educational literature about trauma. Educators tend to take a deficit approach toward youth experiencing trauma and often reinforce trauma through discriminatory and exclusionary disciplinary practices. Using a Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) methodology centered in the lives of Black girls, with an intentional focus on their agency and growth, this study educated, coached, and supported a research team called Queens Speak. The primary purpose of this qualitative study was to elevate the voices of Black girls, through YPAR, by engaging them in a process of inquiry that allowed them to share their experiences within the school-to-prison pipeline; develop counter narratives to the dominant, deficit based, view of trauma; and share the new knowledge they created with educational decision makers. The secondary purpose of this study was to explore critical post traumatic growth among Black girls. This was done through critical ethnography, by observing the experiences of Black girls, reflecting on the YPAR process and highlighting how Black girls exhibited agency and growth amidst trauma. This research highlighted the ways schools further traumatize students through racial stereotyping and punitive discipline. Black girls dealt with invisibility, competition, family issues and colorism. Queens Speak also displayed strength and growth. Collectively, Queens Speak members portrayed an understanding of their identity and history; a belief in their own power; a focus on their future; an interest in community activism; a desire to leave a legacy; and self-expression through the arts. Using photos, poetry, music and art young women presented their findings to educators and administrators; sharing their experiences within the school-to-prison pipeline, as well as their resistance and growth amidst harsh circumstances. Finally, this research explored the emerging conceptual framework of critical post traumatic growth. This framework combined Critical Race Theory and Post Traumatic Growth, highlighting eight tenets that can be used as a lens to both explore, and increase, the growth among Black girls. These tenets are: context, identity, struggle, resistance, navigation, community, voice and hope.