Almost as soon as news broke that a charter school in Louisiana was forcing female students to take pregnancy tests and then kicking those students out who either refused the test or tested positive the school has backtracked and will discontinue the policy.
The Delhi Charter School dropped the practice after the ACLU sent the school a demand letter notifying them that they were in violation of federal law and student’s constitutional rights and in the face of widespread public pressure from communities like Care2.com. School President insisted the policy was in place to “protect” pregnant students from harassment. The ACLU, not surprisingly, disagreed.
“If students at Delhi are being harassed, the school’s responsibility is to protect them while ensuring their education. The problem lies with the harasser, not the victim, and it’s wrong for schools to kick students out for reasons that have nothing to do with their education” said Executive Director Majorie Esman.
Like other efforts to “protect” women and girls, the school’s policy did just the opposite. It singled them out and sent the message that the shame associated with teenage pregnancy is to be carried by young women alone. The fact that the school changed its policy so quickly speaks to just how wrong and illegal the policy was to start.
Lawmakers and school officials in Louisiana could better use their time and resources educating students on birth control and biology and making sure support programs exist should a young woman find herself with an unintended pregnancy.
Photo from Josh Parrish via flickr.