School changes pregnancy policy after national pressure

You can’t deny the clout the ACLU has when it comes to highlighting civil liberties violations. The organization put national pressure on Delhi Charter School once it was revealed the school had been requiring students to take pregnancy tests to confirm suspicions that they were knocked up.

Now, the school is backtracking and changing its policy:

No one at Delhi Charter School in rural northeast Louisiana realized there was anything wrong with the policy until the American Civil Liberties Union’s state chapter threatened to sue, said chairman Albert Christman. The policy has gotten “everybody up in a roar,” he said.

The school required students who were suspected of being pregnant to take a pregnancy test. If they refused, or tested positive, they had to be home-schooled. The ACLU said the policy violated Title IX of the 1972 federal education law, which requires equal opportunities for both sexes.

Too many schools do not realize pregnant students should receive equal treatment, the National Women’s Law Center said in a June report.

“Despite enormous advances for women and girls in education since 1972, schools across the country continue to bar pregnant and parenting students from activities, kick them out of school, pressure them to attend alternative programs, and penalize them for pregnancy-related absences,” the law center said in the report.

The article also noted the school’s board chair said only a “handful” of students had been affected by the policy, which had been instituted in 2006. He added those students were eventually allowed to come back and continue their education.

The ACLU originally reported the school had required female students to take pregnancy tests and kicked the students out of the school if they either refused the tests or if the tests came back positive. The ACLU cited the policy as discriminatory because it violated a portion of the Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities.

The schools original policy, according to Mother Jones:

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.

It’s quite disheartening to hear this 1950s-style punishment of pregnant female students had made a comeback in the 21st century. For those who are unfamiliar, this policy was widely accepted as standard practice as many female teens were kicked out of school when their pregnancies were no longer inconspicuous. Many were also forced to give their children up for adoption. Ann Fessler’s The Girls Who Went Away vividly documents the stories of women who were forced to adapt to these blatant discriminatory practices.

While I can’t stress enough how this policy undermines Title IX and unfairly subjects female students to public humiliation and embarrassment, I’m just as troubled by this school’s lack of knowledge about federal laws in place that prohibit this type of event from occurring. Any parent with a child attending Delhi Charter School should be concerned that their school’s leaders claim they were unaware their policy treated female students as second-class citizens.

Why would I consider enrolling them in a school that believes there’s nothing wrong with singling out random female students they suspect to be pregnant and forcing them to comply with an unjustified search and seizure?