In one Louisiana public school, if a female student is suspected of being pregnant, school officials will demand she take a pregnancy test. Those who refuse to take the test, or those who are pregnant, are then kicked out and forced to undergo home schooling.
According to the ACLU, Delhi Charter School in Delhi, Louisiana is in blatant violation of federal law, the U.S. Constitution and must immediately stop discriminating against female students. The school’s Student Pregnancy Policy completely disregards for Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities. This law, and its implementing regulations, explicitly prohibit schools from excluding any student from an education program or activity, including classes and activities on the basis of a student’s “pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy or recovery.”
The policy also violates the equal protection guarantees of the US Constitution as well as due process rights to procreate. It’s a policy grounded in outdated stereotypes of sexuality and pregnancy and uses those stereotypes to treat female students differently. Notably male students are not subject to paternity testing should school officials suspect they impregnated a fellow student, nor do they face any consequences related to a pregnancy while a student at Delhi Charter School.
Teen mothers need support, not discriminatory exclusion. In states like Louisiana and Mississippi that refuse to adequately fund social services and make contraception, sex education and abortion services accessible young women face bleak prospects. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Tell Delhi Charter Schools to stop this discriminatory policy and end pregnancy testing of its students.
Photo from jencu via flickr.