Returning to School -Pregnant Students’ Rights and the Draft Title IX Regulations

A federal civil rights law known as Title IX forbids sex-based discrimination in any educational program that gets federal funds. For help, click here. This ban covers pregnancy-related discrimination and associated conditions, such as pregnancy termination.

The Education Department announced draft amendments to the Title IX regulations in June. The proposed laws would introduce several elements pertinent to expectant and parenting students, requirements intended to ensure non-discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy/parental status, and accommodations that would allow pregnant students to receive their education.

Accommodations and pregnancy discrimination:

The proposed rules would clearly state that Title IX forbids all forms of sex-based harassment, including discrimination against pregnant women and sexual harassment. Additionally, the rules would shield students from being subjected to prejudice because of their own or someone else’s suspicions that they are pregnant.

The proposed regulations would expand the conditions that are exempt from discrimination by including a definition of “pregnancy or associated conditions.” In addition to the current protections for pregnancy, delivery, pregnancy termination, and recovery from those three situations, the proposed regulations shield academics from prejudice on the basis of lactation and pregnancy-related medical disorders.

According to the proposed regulations, a student would have the right to file a grievance in accordance with the processes outlined in the Title IX rules and regulations that currently apply to sexual harassment complaints if they were subjected to pregnancy-related discrimination or denied appropriate assistance for pregnancy or associated complications. It needs to be seen how this might function in terms of difficulties involving accommodation.

Discrimination based on parental status:

The rights of school pupils are significantly more limited than the ones of pregnant students, even while the new laws attempt to define “parental status” and ban some forms of discrimination based on it.

Since the language in the proposed regulations on parental status is significantly the same as that in the current regulations, schools are still permitted to prejudice against pupils with children as long as they treat male and female students with kids equally. 

Thus, even in light of the new rules, a school is still permitted to have a policy prohibiting parents from serving in student government or participating in specific extracurricular activities, provided the policy is applied consistently to all pupils. The proposed rules go far toward guaranteeing that pregnant individuals can continue their education while they are expecting, healing from pregnancy-related problems, and nursing. However, the new Title IX requirements do not offer any extra protections against parental-status-based discrimination or offer any modifications for student parents once a pupil has bounced back from pregnancy-related problems.

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