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Pregnant Students Left Behind As School Starts

Pregnant Students Left Behind As School Starts

Back to school time may not necessarily bring to mind a picture of a pregnant girl, but the reality is a growing number of our students will face pregnancy sometime in their academic career. To coincide with the start of a new school year, the National Women’s Law Center is re-releasing its comprehensive new report that shows that schools across the country are failing to meet the needs of pregnant and parenting students.

The report finds that schools still bar pregnant students from activities, kick them out of school, push them into alternative programs and penalize them for pregnancy-related absences, all of which violate Title IX—the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education—and increase the risk that they will drop out of school. Recently,  we were outraged over a Louisiana school’s policy of forcing students suspected of being pregnant to take a pregnancy test or get kicked out of school should they either refuse or are pregnant. This is just the latest example of such drastic failures. It wasn’t until the school faced a demand letter from the American Civil Liberties Union and public pressure that it backed off its practice–and not before the lives of a handful of students were already affected.

The NWLC report examines the education laws and regulations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and ranks them based on the extent to which their laws and policies help this vulnerable student population succeed. The majority of states have few or no laws, policies or programs specifically designed to improve outcomes for these students. Our schools can do better and our students deserve better.

The Center’s state-by-state ranking shows that the best states that offer support for these students are California, Florida, Oregon, North Carolina and Wisconsin;  the worst are Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nevada and Nebraska. The rankings, while surprising in some respects, also illustrate the patchwork nature of these laws, a fact that standing alone shows the structural challenges facing pregnant and parenting students.

Title IX protections for pregnant and parenting students are so crucial, especially since often it is only the girls and women that bear the costs and consequences of a pregnancy. Without those protections young women and girls would face almost certain poverty with less opportunity to climb out of it than had their education remain stable and accessible during their pregnancy and as parents themselves.

The economic gains women have made over the past forty years are in large part due to the protections and opportunities of Title IX. Now it is time to make sure our most vulnerable students receive the benefit of those protections as well.


Related Stories:

Tell Louisiana School No More Forced Pregnancy Tests

5 Ways Girls Inc. Is Helping Young Women Rise Above Teen Pregnancy

Mississippi To Make Teen Pregnancy Problem Worse


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Photo from stevendepolo via flickr.

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10:05AM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

We live in a world where you need all the education you can get. The pregnant woman and her child will live in proverty if you deny her a chance of a good education.

11:29AM PDT on Sep 9, 2012

This article ignores a whole other dimension to the problem. Pregnant students have a lot going on in their lives. Pregnancy causes all sorts of new changes to the body and one's emotions. One needs to change one's diet, exercise habits, clothes and sleeping habits. And they need to learn about adult topics like finances, budgets, shopping for food, putting another person first, or how to let go of a child to adoption. It would seem far better to have a separate program for pregnant students that would help them deal with the complexity of their lives and the choices and changes they are in for.

12:32PM PDT on Sep 8, 2012


6:49AM PDT on Sep 8, 2012

Ernest R., Parasites indeed ! , just look in the mirror, ecto or internal, they are you ! Now if we were to fight against this archaic approach to educational opportunity, where would the future Jindals get their hoardes of followers ?

6:56AM PDT on Sep 7, 2012

They need to be pushing real sex education; getting these kids to realize the true consequnces of their actions if they do become pregnant and what decisions they will be forced to make.
Personally I think that kids in 7th or 8th grade (and in some places maybe even younger, depending on the teenage birthrate), should have to bring home for a week or longer, one of the electronic babies with the sensors. My daughter had to bring one home last year as part of the medical program she is in, and I can tell you that after less then a day she could not wait to be rid of it. Granted it is not quite the same as a real life baby but it would randomly cry day or night and they had to figure out what was wrong by feeding it, changing it's diaper, rocking it, etc... Between what I heard from my daughter and her friends in this class, it definitely turned them off of even thinking of having a child while still in school.
It may not be a perfect solution but it is better then just telling kids "don't have sex", because obviously they aren't listening to that.

4:08AM PDT on Sep 7, 2012

We all should be supporting these young women as much as we can. They NEED a good education. Thx for the article.

6:56PM PDT on Sep 5, 2012

"I think if you are pregnant you definitely need to get an education. These girls are at risk and with out an education what do you expect them to achieve???????????????" Winn A.

Most likely, the very rich Republicans are licking their greedy little chops at the prospect of creating permanent lower 'servant' class whom they can hire as maids at a far less than livable wage and whose children can shine their shoes, most likely instead of getting an education.

BTW--Yes, I am Pro-choice. I believe we should support the mother in whatever her decision is. And Yes, Support the Father too, most especially if he is there for his child---Deadbeat Dad don't deserve any more support than Deadbeat Moms.

6:10PM PDT on Sep 5, 2012

I think if you are pregnant you definitely need to get an education. These girls are at risk and with out an education what do you expect them to achieve???????????????

2:15PM PDT on Sep 5, 2012

Ernest R - What a troll. Too bad your mother didn't practice safe sex.

2:10PM PDT on Sep 5, 2012


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