Pregnant and Parenting Students: Know Your Rights

hi I'm Lara Kaufman I'm an attorney with the National Women's Law Center and I wanted to tell you about the rights of pregnant and parenting students a lot of people don't know that pregnant and parenting students actually have civil rights there's a federal law called title 9 that prohibits schools from discriminating against students because of their sets and that includes their pregnancy their parental status their marital status and recovered from any conditions like miscarriage or termination of pregnancy is also protective so schools cannot discriminate against you on those grounds for example schools cannot tell you once you become pregnant that you can't participate in certain extracurricular activities we've gotten complaints from people whose schools have told them that they can't run for homecoming court or senior support superlatives because they've been pregnant or they can't continue to participate in their sport or in cheerleading we've heard from students who really wanted to continue participating in those activities but couldn't even though their doctors said it would be ok it's really it's really a violation of the law first for schools to do that they're not allowed to exclude you on those grounds as long as your doctor says it's ok to continue participating you can and your school can't even require you to bring in a doctor's note saying that you can participate unless they require that kind of note from every student who has a medical condition that requires treatment from a doctor so schools are definitely violating this law if you feel that your rights have been violated you should look for your title 9 coordinator so you can report that or you should contact us and I'll tell you in a moment how you can do that another example is when schools steer or even forced girls into alternative programs for pregnant and parenting students some schools offer alternative programs that are fabulous some offered programs that are not good and don't give girls an opportunity to earn credits that they need to graduate to earn their diploma and to go on to college or other career opportunities so it's really important that that if a school and this is required by the law if they aren't going to offer an alternative program it has to be equal in quality to the program that you get the instruction that you get at your regular neighborhood high school it also has to offer the same kind of learning opportunities that you would get and and if they do offer that kind of program they cannot force you to attend it has to be completely voluntary if you want to stay in your regular high school they have to allow you to do that schools also have to offer you the same benefits that they offer to students with any temporarily disabling conditions so for example if your school has a rule that people who get their appendix out and have to be out of school for two weeks can get homebound instruction or people with any medical condition that requires them to miss school for an extended period have are entitled to get homebound tutoring to help them keep up with their work they have to also allow pregnant students to take advantage of that kind of benefit as long as you meet whatever requirements all students have to meet in order to get those services so we've heard of schools that exclude pregnancy as an elbow eligible condition for those services they can't do that under the law and finally your school needs to give you an excused absence for any time that you missed due to pregnancy or childbirth as long as your doctor deems that it's medically necessary so your schools not allowed to say that you have to be back at school for example one week after you give birth regardless of what your doctor says they have to allow you to have an excused absence for as long as your doctor says you have to and when you return to school you have to be put back in the position you were in before you left school and they also should and must allow you to make up the work that you missed while you were out so they can't require you to take zeros and fail a course and have to reach it just because you were out pregnant they have to enable you to make up the work and get back to where you were so you can stay on track to graduate and move on to two other options like career options and college and other kinds of post-secondary education so for more information about your rights under title 9 and and what schools can do to help keep pregnant and parenting students in school go to our website it's WWN WLC org slash dropout thanks so much

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