If you haven’t seen this image yet, you may be wondering why this professor is teaching with a child in his arms. Well, here’s the backstory:
“So one of the students came with her kid, because she didn’t have a babysitter. the kid starts to cry in the middle of the class, so his mom, all embarrassed gets up to leave, and the professor took the kid from her, calmed him and continued teaching.”
What an awesome professor! He didn’t question or chastise this mom for her effort to both parent and pursue her education. Instead, he embraced her efforts– and her child! What would our college campuses look like if our universities encouraged this welcoming attitude towards pregnant and parenting students?
Some would suggest that such an effort would be chaos– madness, even! We’d be opening our universities to the rowdy whims of precocious minions and distracting entire classes of hard working students.
Now, let’s not get crazy! I’m not expecting professors to suddenly throw open their doors to welcome in herds of students’ children and to wipe the snot off of every crying toddler’s face. But there are practical ways that universities can and should accommodate pregnant and parenting students.
Enter Title IX.
You may know about Title IX and how it protects pregnant and parenting students, and if you do, I commend you! Too often, students are unaware that this legislation supports the efforts of pregnant and parenting students. For those in the dark, here’s a quick refresher on Title IX accommodations for pregnant and parenting students:
(Source: Pregnant and Parenting Students’ Rights, National Women’s Law Center)
- “Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex – including pregnancy, parenting and all related conditions – in educational programs and activities that get federal funding. This means that schools must give all students who might be, are, or have been pregnant the same access to school programs and educational opportunities that other students have.”
- “Your school must excuse your absences due to pregnancy or any related conditions for as long as your doctor says it is necessary for you to be absent. This is true even if there is no leave policy for students with other conditions. When you return to school, you must be reinstated to the status you held before your leave. The school can require you to submit a doctor’s note from you only if that is required of students with other medical conditions.”
- “You cannot be penalized for pregnancy or related conditions. If a professor provides specific ‘points’ or other advantages to students based on class attendance, you must be given the opportunity to earn back the credit from classes you miss due to pregnancy, so that you can be reinstated to the status you held before you took leave.”
- “Your school must let you make up the work you missed while you were out due to pregnancy or any related conditions, including recovery from childbirth… your school has to provide you with the appropriate assignments and information to make up all of the work you would have been required to complete while you were out. For an extended absence, it is best if your school provides you with the work you miss regularly, so you do not fall far behind.”
- “Title IX requires that schools provide pregnant students with any special services they provide to students with temporary disabilities. If students with temporary disabilities get at-home tutoring to help them keep up with work they miss when absent, the school must provide students who miss class because of pregnancy or childbirth with the same benefit.”
- “Schools cannot terminate or reduce athletic, merit or need-based scholarships based on pregnancy. If you stay in school, you can keep your scholarship.”
change Your campus
23% of college students are parenting, and less than 1 in 10 students with children complete a bachelor’s degree within 6 years of college entry. Let’s help make their dreams of a college degree a bit easier. Here’s what we can do:
- Educate your campus about the right ways to respond to and support pregnant and parenting students.
- Hand out these Title IX students’ rights documents to administration, faculty, and staff.
- Talk to your college community about pregnant and parenting students and their needs on campus.
- Organize effective resource projects to support these students and to change your college campus.
Together, we can make a difference!
This post was contributed by Beth Rahal, Pregnant on Campus Coordinator. For more information about the Pregnant on Campus Initiative and how you can get involved, please contact Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org.