Pregnant and Parenting Teens
Knowing Your Educational Rights Matters
While staying in school is essential to the future of a parenting or pregnant student, it’s not so easy. Having the support you need and understanding your rights will make a difference.
Schools Can’t Treat You Differently Because You are Pregnant or Parenting. It’s the Law.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects your rights. It says, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” That means:
- Schools cannot discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, etc.
- Schools can’t discriminate based on parental, family or marital status.
- Pregnant and parenting teens must be treated the same as all other students.
You Have Legal Rights in the Classroom
- You can choose your educational options. Pregnant or parenting students can’t be forced into a stand-alone alternative school. They are allowed to stay in their school and can return to their school at any time.
- You can stay in your regular classes, during pregnancy and after the baby is born. You have the right to return to school with the same academic status you had before you left school because of your pregnancy.
- You can participate in special programs for pregnant students, if you want. No one in your school can require you to take a special class for pregnant and parenting students. It must be voluntary. Schools cannot require parenting education for female teen parents if it does not do so for male teen parents.
- Absences for health problems related to your pregnancy or childbirth can be excused. You have the right to stay home from school for as long as your doctor says you should. Pregnant and parenting students cannot be penalized for absences due to childbirth as long as they have a doctor’s note. If a district has a policy that students fail when they miss a certain number of school days, and they waive the policy for students with extended medical conditions or temporary disabilities, they must also waive the policy for pregnant and parenting students with a doctor’s note.
- You can receive make-up assignments if other students who miss school for health reasons receive make-up assignments from their teachers.
- You can have home instruction if your doctor says that you need to stay home from school because of your pregnancy or childbirth. Under Michigan state law, all school districts are required to provide homebound or hospitalized instructional services to students who are absent for five or more consecutive school days because of a medical condition, including pregnancy, childbirth and recovery. (National Women’s Law Center, 2011)
- Schools cannot require you to be absent for a prescribed period of time after the birth of your child.
- You can participate in all school and extracurricular activities. No restrictions can be placed on students because of pregnancy or parenting status. Your school can require a doctor’s note saying that you are medically able to participate, but only if it requires all students who see a doctor for a “health or medical condition” to do the same.
For more information about your rights:
United States Department of Education
United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights
National Women’s Law Center for help enforcing your rights
For healthcare and health-related information:
Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools
Michigan Department of Community Health: Pregnant Women, Children and Families