4 Ways Campuses Can Support Pregnant & Parenting Students

How to Support Pregnant and Parenting Students

Posted on 29 April 2016 |

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pregnant parenting studentsTitle IX is a very broad law. It covers more than athletic inequality and more than sexual violence. It covers all types of inequality and sex discrimination. In fact, we’ve written before about the many different equality issues that Title IX covers.

This time, however, we are going to talk about one specific part of Title IX: pregnancy and parenting. Under Title IX, higher education institutions are prohibited from discriminating against students because they are pregnant or parents.

Higher Education’s Responsibilities Under Title IX Laws

For example, Inside Higher Ed reported that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld a jury verdict stating that Wayne State University has to pay $850,000 to former student for failing to respond to pregnancy-related harassment and discrimination from an internship supervisor—even though the internship company was not covered by Title IX.

The supervisor informed the student that she was not allowed to drive after dark or in bad weather, questioned the student’s marital status and told the student to wear looser clothing—among many other things.

The courts found that the university’s response to the discrimination the student experienced was the main problem. It had a responsibility to respond and investigate the claim and protect the student from pregnancy discrimination. And it didn’t matter that the discrimination did not happen on campus and that no one from the school harassed the student.

This example illustrates why it’s so important for colleges and universities to have a plan in place for supporting students who are pregnant or parenting.

How Your Campus Can Support Pregnant and Parenting Students

So can your university do? That’s what we are going to cover. Now, this isn’t an exhaustive list of all the requirements under Title IX, for that you’ll want to check out the Office for Civil Rights’ website, but this list should shed some light on some best practices for going above and beyond to support your school’s pregnant and parenting students.

Offer Online Classes or Assignments

Help students that are home-bound by recording class lectures and allowing pregnant students to watch them online. Or you could simultaneously broadcast the course so that students can watch a live video feed. And if that isn’t possible, encourage alternate assignments that the students can complete at home.

Provide On-Site Childcare

Offering on-site childcare will make it easier for students who are parents to attend class. Even if your school does not have the resources for full-time childcare, perhaps try a program where there is someone available in emergency situations. This will help students attend class and continue their education.

Train Faculty & Staff

Make sure that you provide Title IX training for faculty and staff that covers their responsibilities under Title IX and that they are aware of how to accommodate pregnant and parenting students. The more they know, the better equipped they will be to assist pregnant and parenting students when they need it.

Designate Private Spaces and Rooms

Provide students with private or secluded areas where they can take care of their needs such as pumping breast milk, breastfeeding or anything else related to childcare. This space is important because it shows your school cares about its students and wants to ensure they are comfortable on campus.

Key Takeaways

The most important thing to remember is that your school must not discriminate against pregnant or parenting students. In order to maintain compliance, it’s a better solution to think about the different ways you can support them and help them succeed during their time at your school. We listed four different solutions including online classes, on-site childcare, training for faculty and staff, and private rooms. Now it’s your turn. What are some other suggestions you have for helping pregnant and parenting students?

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