All too often pregnant students are treated differently than other students and pushed out of school because of their pregnancies. Under Title IX, this is illegal. Title IX protects against sex discrimination in education, and pregnancy discrimination is sex discrimination. The law requires that schools give all students who might be, are, or have been pregnant the same access to school programs and extracurricular activities that other students have.
In June, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released guidance to all federally funded education programs on the Title IX rights of pregnant and parenting students. The guidance made clear that schools cannot discriminate against students on the basis of pregnancy. For example, schools must allow pregnant and parenting students to continue participating in classes, excuse absences due to pregnancy or childbirth for as long as medically necessary, and allow students to make up the work missed. The guidance also included background information on school retention problems associated with young parents and strategies that educators may use to address the educational needs of students who become pregnant or have children. This guidance was much needed and in the few short months since its release, has already helped to support the academic success of pregnant and parenting students.
Yesterday, OCR took another step in safeguarding equity for pregnant and parenting students and released a Spanish-language translation of the June guidance. This translation will help ensure that even more students know their rights and schools know their obligations under Title IX. We applaud OCR’s efforts to support pregnant and parenting students so that they can stay in school, complete their education, and build better lives for themselves and their families.