Demand Educational Institutions Uphold Law Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Pregnancy

pregnant woman

Target: Seth Galanter, acting head of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights

Goal: To ensure that high schools, colleges, and universities abide by the civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education, including discrimination based on pregnancy.

Despite the fact that a law preventing sex discrimination in education has been on the books for 40 years, many female students are still experiencing discrimination from teachers, professors, administrators, and school policies because they are pregnant. The law, known as Title IX, protects students from discrimination based on ‘actual or potential parental, family, or marital status,’ among other statuses including pregnancy. Regardless of pregnancy or motherhood, these women deserve the ability to obtain an education free from discrimination.

The discrimination has become such an issue that the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) has filed an official complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights based on the experience of one young woman named Stephanie. Stephanie, an honor student attending a Manhattan college on a merit-based scholarship, is pregnant. At the beginning of the semester, she informed her professors of the chance that she may be absent occasionally due to her pregnancy and would provide a doctor’s note. One of her professors refused to excuse Stephanie or allow her to make up the work, regardless if she had an emergency or went into labor. The administration told Stephanie that her only option is to accept the professor’s policy or drop the class, which she did. Unfortunately, this also meant that she was forced to drop out of the scholarship program because she no longer met the requirements.

Sadly, Stephanie is not alone in her story of discrimination. America has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world where almost 3 in 10 girls become pregnant before the age of 20. Of those teen mothers, only half of them will earn a high school diploma by age 22. Not only that, but almost one-half of female dropouts reported that being a parent influenced their decision to leave school. Obtaining an education has its own share of difficulties, as does being a young mother. In an age when teen pregnancy has become rampant and an education has become crucial to one’s success, the absolute last thing these female students need is discrimination. Sign the petition below to demand that educational institutions comply with Title IX and stop discrimination based on pregnancy and motherhood.

PETITON LETTER:

Dear Mr. Galanter,

We are enlisting your help to ensure that educational institutions across the country are complying with the civil rights law known as Title IX. Title IX protects students from discrimination based on ‘actual or potential parental, family, or marital status,’ as well as students who are or may become pregnant, students in labor, and students who choose to receive an abortion. Despite the fact that the law was passed in 1972, many female students across the country are still experiencing discrimination from teachers, professors, administrators, and school policies because they are pregnant.

Our country has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world where almost 3 in 10 girls become pregnant before the age of 20. Of those teen mothers, only half of them will earn a high school diploma by age 22. Not only that, but almost one-half of female dropouts reported that being a parent influenced their decision to leave school.

These young women need support while they are learning to be mothers, finishing high school, obtaining a college degree, and dealing with all the regular difficulties of young adulthood. They deserve to be treated with respect regardless of pregnancy, parenting status, or reproductive choices. We ask that you fully investigate violations of Title IX and protect students from this discrimination.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit:  one tiny spark via Flickr

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63 Signatures

  • Eric von Borstel
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  • Marianne Oelman
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