June 21, 2012 — The vast majority of states are failing to provide pregnant students and teen parents with equal educational opportunities, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Women's Law Center, the Los Angeles Times' "L.A. Now" reports.
The report examined states' progress in reducing sex discrimination in education since the enactment of Title IX, the 1972 law that bars the practice in federally funded education programs and activities. The law prohibits schools from kicking out pregnant students and teen parents, requires them to provide equal opportunities in academics and athletics, and bars sexual harassment and bullying.
Title IX also specifically requires states to offer pregnant students alternative programs that are comparable to the normal curriculum, provide them with equal access to classes and extracurricular activities, and excuse medically necessary absences related to pregnancy and childbirth.
Details of Findings
The report found that many schools bar students from activities, force them to leave school or transfer to inferior alternative programs, and penalize them for pregnancy-related absences. In one case in New Mexico, school officials expelled a pregnant teen, and then forced her to announce her pregnancy at a school assembly after lawyers won her readmission.
However, the report singled out a few states -- California, Florida, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- for implementing policies that support pregnant and parenting teens. For example, 73% of pregnant teens and teen parents in the California School Age Families Education program have completed high school since 2000 -- compared with 51% of other teen mothers. The program offers services such as academic support, career and parenting education, counseling, and meal supplements (Watanabe, "L.A.Now," Los Angeles Times, 6/19).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership