Earlier this week, the Department of Education (DOE) released new guidance on how to assist pregnant and parenting students in their academic career.
The guidelines, in the form of a Dear Colleague letter and accompanying pamphlet, details how schools should handle the needs of pregnant and parenting students in accordance with Title IX. In the pamphlet, the DOE clarifies that any school cannot require pregnant or parenting students to complete or any paperwork or courses that are not required of other students who take hospital leave. In addition, the pamphlet dictates that schools make reasonable accommodations to pregnant students such as larger desks and elevator use in the same capacity as accommodations made to other students with medical conditions. Though the pamphlet is aimed at secondary schools, the DOE states that the legal principles behind the guidelines also apply to higher education.
Lisa Maatz of American Association of University Women commented on the changes, “Pregnant and parenting students have always been protected under Title IX, but this guidance provides much-needed clarification and concrete steps schools must take to support these students… AAUW is pleased that the Department of Education has made it abundantly clear that schools may not deny mothers and fathers educational opportunities that are provided to other students.”