Louisiana charter schools demand girls suspected of pregnancy take a pregnancy test or leave; ACLU fights back
On August 7, 2012 At 9:43 pm
Responses : 2 Comments
Louisiana charter schools now demand that female students, whom they suspect of being pregnant, must take a pregnancy test or the school will suspend them and treat her as though she is pregnant. If the test is positive, the student still ends up suspended. Louisiana charter schools wrote this into their official student rules.
“If a student is determined to be pregnant and wishes to continue to attend Delhi Charter School, the student will be required to pursue a course of home study that will be provided by the school.”
The schools further reserve the right to choose the student’s doctor for them and if the test turns out positive, she will not be able to return to school. The school will force her into a home schooling program, if she wishes to continue her education.
If an administrator or teacher suspects a student is pregnant, a parent conference will be held. The school reserves the right to require any female student to take a pregnancy test to confirm whether or not the suspected student is in fact pregnant. The school further reserves the right to refer the suspected student to a physician of its choice. If the test indicates that the student is pregnant, the student will not be permitted to attend classes on the campus of Delhi Charter School.
If a student is determined to be pregnant and wishes to continue to attend Delhi Charter School, the student will be required to pursue a course of home study that will be provided by the school…Any student who is suspected of being pregnant and who refuses to submit to a pregnancy test shall be treated as a pregnant student and will be offered home study opportunities. If home study opportunities are not acceptable, the student will be counseled to seek other educational opportunities.
According to the ACLU, the policy violates the portion of Title IX that protects female students from exclusion from school “including any class or extracurricular activity, on the basis of such student’s pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy or recovery therefrom.” The civil rights organization also says the Student Pregnancy Policy at the Delhi Charter School violates the equal protection clause under the 14th Amendment.
Care2 points out that this policy is not only outdated, but also grounded in sexist stereotypes, in which school does force male students to take paternity tests. The school also does not suspend male students for becoming fathers, either.
The ACLU wrote a letter to the school district demanding they withdraw this unconstitutional policy. The ACLU stated that this policy is a “blatant violation of federal law and the U. S. Constitution.”
"Today, the ACLU of Louisiana and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project asked Delhi Charter School to immediately suspend this discriminatory and illegal policy.
The policy’s complete disregard for Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities, is astonishing. Title IX and its regulations explicitly mandate that schools cannot exclude any student from an education program or activity, “including any class or extracurricular activity, on the basis of such student’s pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy or recovery therefrom.”
Besides violating Title IX, the policy is also in violation of the Constitution’s due process right to procreate, and equal protection: it treats female students differently from male students and relies on archaic stereotypes linked to sex and pregnancy."
According to the ACLU, more than 70% of pregnant teenage girls, who give birth, drop out school and evidence suggests that illegal discrimination is a contributing factor. The ACLU also stated that the school’s policy also forces pregnant student to submit to an exam, which also violates her rights and discriminates against her, along with forcing her to leave school in favour of an alternative education.
“The right to attend school and to participate fully in activities cannot be denied simply because a student is, or may be, pregnant,” said Galen Sherwin of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. “Pregnancy is not a disease, and schools may not treat it that way. The administrators of Delhi Charter School should be ashamed that they seek to deprive students of the benefits of going to school every day.”
The ACLU stated the stories around the country are the same, with the school telling the student she had to leave school due to the pregnancy and force her into an alternative education. Accordingly, most of the alternative educational choices are substandard. Occasionally, the discrimination is more subtle, with the school refusing to excuse absences for doctor’s appointments and/or allowing the student to make up the schoolwork missed due to her pregnancy, and/or refuses to allow them to participate in school activities. The schools base these actions “on "morality" codes or make disparaging, discouraging and disapproving comments.”
"Young people have a right to complete their education regardless of their sex or whether they become pregnant. Teens should not have to choose between completing their education and taking care of themselves and their children.
The ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project works to ensure the rights of pregnant and parenting teens through advocacy, education, and litigation to investigate and end the push-out of pregnant and parenting teens from school."
Since 1972, Title IX made it illegal to exclude pregnant students or parents from receiving an education. The ACLU stated that despite Title IX, schools still exclude or punish female students for becoming pregnant.