Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Everything Old is New Again

There I am, blythely writing my article on teen pregnancy, and include this line to explain why the effects of teen pregnancy/parenting on education is less negative than in the past: "A number of legal and societal changes have also ameliorated some of the negative effects of teen pregnancy.  For example, since 1972, it is illegal for public schools to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, which allows many pregnant girls to continue their education."[1]

And then there's this out of Louisiana:
Calling a charter school’s policy on pregnant students illegal, Louisiana education officials will require the Delhi Charter School to drop its classroom ban on pregnant students and the ability to mandate pregnancy tests for students suspected of being pregnant.
The state-funded school in Delhi, La., says in its “Student Pregnancy Policy” that pregnant girls should leave school or study at home.
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“The policy discriminates against female students not just for being pregnant but even for the possibility that they might be pregnant, and treats them as though pregnancy was some kind of contagious disease by telling them they can’t stay in school,” Marjorie Esman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, told TODAY.com. “That is a gross violation of the law and their right to have an education.”

The ACLU says the policy violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law that bans discrimination based on gender in educational programs, as well as the equal protection and due process clauses of the Constitution. The policy is discriminatory because it treats girls who are pregnant or suspected of being pregnant differently from all other students, the ACLU says.

“What a school should do is treat pregnancy as any other medical condition and allow the student to participate fully in anything that she’s medically capable of participating in,” Esman said, noting the policy doesn’t say anything about male students who father children.

[1] 20 U.S.C. §1681(a) (2000) ("no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."); 34 C.F.R. §106.40(b)(1)(2005)(a school "shall not discriminate against any student, or exclude any student from its education program or activity, including any class or extracurricular activity, on the basis of such student's pregnancy”). See Wanda S. Pillow, Unfit Subjects: Educational Policy and the Teen Mother (2004). Even before passage of that law, some pregnant minors sued and won the right to attend public schools.  See, e.g., Ordway v. Hargraves, 323 F. Supp. 1155 (D.C. Mass. 1971).

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