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CA: ACLU Sues School District for Discrimination Against Pregnant Students

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court last Wednesday against a California school district for requiring pregnant students and students with children to attend alternative classrooms with very little instruction or teaching. These students had been told by the district that receiving the benefits provided by the Cal-SAFE program, such as child-care and parenting skills classes, was contingent on participation in the alternative classrooms. According to Kaisernetwork.org, the suit alleges that these classrooms are “little more than study hall,” and that no college-preparatory curriculum or language courses are taught. The lawsuit references violations of Title IX, the landmark 1972 federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education, as well as the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection and due process clauses, reports the Associated Press. Additionally, the California law that governs the program states specifically that school districts must “ensure that enrolled pupils retain their right to participate in any comprehensive school or educational alternative programs in which they could otherwise enroll,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Nancy Solomon of the California Women’s Law Center said, “Teen childbearing generally leads to poor life outcomes for both mother and child. Completing high school is the first step in breaking this cycle and this lawsuit should be a wake-up call to school districts that they cannot deny pregnant and parenting student their rights without consequences,” according to the Associated Press. The suit was filed on behalf of two young women students, one 15 and one 17 years old, both of whom are parents. The suit is seeking class-action status, as the ACLU estimates that approximately 120 students are currently relegated to these alternative classrooms, the Los Angeles Times reports. LEARN MORE about the Feminist Majority Foundation’s effort to protect Title IX DONATE to support FMF’s work to achieve gender equality in education

Sources:

Los Angeles Times 9/2/04; Associated Press 9/1/04; Kaisernetwork.org 9/3/04