Wednesday, March 4, 2015
When Title IX isn't enough: Teen parents need family leave laws
Many pregnant and parenting teens don't know they have FEDERAL rights. These federal rights are known as Title IX (read more about Title IX) they state that pregnant and parenting teens have the right to complete and continue their education while pregnant and parenting. However, many schools don't inform teen parents about these rights and because of this many pregnant and parenting teens may not know that their rights are being violated.
In addition to not knowing about our rights and having our rights violated we have NO maternity leave laws that protect pregnant and parenting teens in a way that allows for us to enjoy the multiple benefits of maternity leave. I shared some of my experiences with going back to school almost immediately after giving birth because I was afraid the school would fail me before and felt there was more I wanted to say.
For example, even though pregnant and parenting teens have the right to equal educational opportunity under Title IX, which allows for excused absences and medical leave during a pregnancy, among other things, many students are unaware of their rights, school faculty and staff do not inform them of those rights, and schools do a poor job of establishing comprehensive policies that go beyond addressing the on-paper needs of students who are pregnant or parenting.
If advocates truly want to improve outcomes for new moms and dads, they would also help elevate the needs of pregnant and parenting teens, instead of allowing the system to continue punishing young adults for making their own reproductive decisions.
Pregnant and parenting students face significant barriers that often are overlooked or discounted by schoolteachers and other people in their lives. They have to juggle keeping on top of their schoolwork with attending school in unsafe learning environments due to things like bullying, societal stigma, and shame. Pregnant teens have their own set of unique needs, which vary from person to person but often include constant bathroom breaks, snacking in between meals, and pregnancy-related doctor’s appointments.
You can read more of my thoughts in this article I wrote,"Family Leave Laws Need to Include Teen Student Parents"