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Are Title IX rights granted to pregnant students?

Yes, Title IX protects all students and employees from sex-based discrimination. The Department of Education’s regulations implementing Title IX specifically prohibit discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery from any of these conditions. In June of 2013, the Office for Civil Rights issued a pamphlet entitled “Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972” which details these obligations. For a copy of the pamphlet, click here.

Can someone discriminate against me based of my parenting status?

No. The Department of Education's regulation implementing Title IX specifically prohibits discrimination against a student based on pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery from any of these conditions. The Title IX regulation also prohibits a school from applying any rule related to a student’s parental, family, or marital status that treats students differently based on their sex.

May a school require a pregnant student to participate in a separate program for pregnant students?

No. Any such requirement would violate Title IX. A school may offer separate programs or schools for a pregnant student, but participation in those programs or schools must be completely voluntary. A school may provide information to its students about the availability of an alternative program, but it may not pressure a pregnant student to attend that program. A pregnant student must be allowed to remain in her regular classes and school if she so chooses.

If I feel I'm being discriminated against because I'm pregnant, is that against Title IX?

Yes. Title IX prohibits harassment of students based on sex, including harassment because of pregnancy or related conditions. Harassing conduct can take many forms, including verbal acts and name-calling, graphic and written statements, and other conduct that may be humiliating or physically threatening or harmful. Particular actions that could constitute prohibited harassment include making sexual comments or jokes about a student’s pregnancy, calling a pregnant student sexually charged names, spreading rumors about her sexual activity, and making sexual propositions or gestures. Schools must take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end pregnancy related harassment, prevent its recurrence, and eliminate any hostile environment created by the harassment. The school violates Title IX if sexual harassment or other pregnancy-related harassment by employees, students, or third parties is sufficiently serious that it interferes with a student’s ability to benefit from or participate in the school’s program, and the harassment is encouraged, tolerated, not adequately addressed, or ignored by school employees.

What types of assistance must a school provide to a pregnant student at school?

To ensure a pregnant student’s access to its educational program, when necessary, a school must make adjustments to the regular program that are reasonable and responsive to the student’s temporary pregnancy status. For example, a school might be required to provide a larger desk, allow frequent trips to the bathroom, or permit temporary access to elevators.

Does a school need to provide special services to a pregnant student?

Title IX requires a school to provide the same special services to a pregnant student that it provides to students with temporary medical conditions. For example, if a school provides at-home instruction or tutoring to students who miss school because of temporary medical conditions, it must do the same for a student who misses school because of pregnancy or childbirth.

What if some teachers at a school have their own policies about class attendance and make-up work?

Every school that receives federal financial assistance is bound by Title IX. Schools must ensure that the policies and practices of individual teachers do not discriminate against pregnant students. For example, a teacher may not refuse to allow a student to submit work after a deadline that she missed because of absences due to pregnancy or childbirth. Additionally, if a teacher’s grading is based in part on class attendance or participation, the student should be allowed to earn the credits she missed so that she can be reinstated to the status she had before the leave. Schools should ensure that their teachers and staff are aware of and follow Title IX requirements.

Information from the Office for Civil Rights “Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972”