Date: June 23rd, 2020
By: Deborah Chilcoat
Discrimination against pregnant and parenting students is alive and well…and could be getting worse! In February, attorney generals from 19 states and the District of Columbia sent Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, a letter expressing their “strong opposition” to proposed changes to Title IX. It’s a juicy one, too! They make the case that the changes would decrease protections against students who are pregnant and parenting—as well as LGBTQ+ and gender-expansive students. They even include statements like “The consequences of the Department’s proposed rule for the States’ students and residents are potentially dire and long-lasting,” and use lawyer-lingo like “arbitrary and capricious” and “evidentiary support.”
The problem, as I see it, is that the rights of students who are pregnant or parenting are being chipped away, few people notice, and the news doesn’t cover it. Honestly, unless I had been writing this post and doing a Google search for examples of Title IX violations, I may still be “in the dark” about it, too. Yikes, right?
Guess what? I was angry and frustrated before I started writing this post because even without the proposed changes to Title IX, young parents’ rights are still being violated. I really would have thought that the 2017 report by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), Let Her Learn: Stopping School Pushout for Girls Who Are Pregnant or Parenting, would have been a wake-up call for anyone who is bound by Title IX. I guess some people just didn’t get the message.
So, now I have a gift and a request.
Healthy Teen Network is a partner on Map 2 Success, a project of the Baltimore City Health Department and Maryland Department of Health, funded by the Department of Health and Human Services Pregnancy Assistance Fund. We created an infographic that explains Title IX and Maryland’s law regarding excused absences for pregnant and parenting students in simple language for students and staff.
Map 2 Success is also compiling the qualities and characteristics of schools that are “friendly,” welcoming, and safe for students who are pregnant and parenting. Let us know what you think.
What can schools do to provide the highest quality educational experience for young people who are pregnant and/or parenting? Email Deborah Chilcoat with your ideas.
About the Author
Deborah Chilcoat, M.Ed., brings over 16 years of experience in adolescent sexual and reproductive health and an unyielding commitment to improving the health and well-being of young people to her current position as Senior Training and Technical Assistance Manager at Healthy Teen Network. Deb’s extensive experience in project management, capacity-building assistance, collaborative partnerships, as well as evidence-based and innovative approaches has served to meet the needs of diverse youth and communities across the United States.