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Title IX: Protect Your Rights

Young people who are pregnant or parenting face discrimination. By understanding Title IX law, you can help protect your rights.

Caricature of Deborah Chilcoat

By Deborah Chilcoat, MEd

June 23, 2020

D iscrimination 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 IXIt’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.”

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.

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.

Image is a snapshot of the infographic, depicting cross-section graphic of a school, with various rooms and students and teachers

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.

Deborah Chilcoat, MEd, is a Senior Manager for our Capacity Building and Evaluation Department at Healthy Teen Network and is nationally recognized as a seasoned trainer and adolescent sexual and reproductive health expert. When home, she is savoring every moment with her incredibly fun family and their lovable dogs. Read more about Deb