This is a story about how putting sunshine on civil rights violations can and does produce positive results. It’s also about how little law makers and school officials know about the constitution and its application to pregnant students.
The story begins at Delhi Charter School in Delhi, Lousiana. The school’s pregnancy policy made pregnancy an expellable offense, punishable by mandatory home schooling. Under the policy, a teacher or administrator could compel a girl suspected of committing pregnancy to undergo a mandatory blood test, and be sent to a doctor of the school’s choosing. Refusal to be tested would result in expulsion, because we all know that refusing a school administered pregnancy test is one of the gravest offenses and young woman can commit – well of course, next to the crime of pregnancy.
It also violates the constitution. Enter the ACLU with its threat to sue the school.
Today, the Charter school announced it would change its policy. According to the School, it didn’t think mandatory pregnancy tests or expelling students who refuse them or commit the crime of pregnancy violated the constitution.
According to NBC: School officials announced today that the will change their pregnancy policy because of the ACLU’s actions.
No one at Delhi Charter School in rural northeast Louisiana realized there was anything wrong with the policy until the American Civil Liberties Union’s state chapter threatened to sue, said chairman Albert Christman. The policy has gotten “everybody up in a roar,” he said.
Yes, imagine that. The constitution applies to pregnant students too! You would be surprised how many politicians and school officials are unaware of that fact – a point not lost on the National Women’s Law Center, in it’s reaction to Delhi Charter school policy.
It is unacceptable that in the year 2012 so few lawmakers, school officials, teachers know that Title IX prohibits discrimination against pregnant and parenting students.
The repercussions of this unawareness are profound. As noted in NWLC’s executive summary of a report on the subject:
According to a study released in 2010, only about 50% of teen mothers get a high school
diploma by the age of 22, compared with 89% of women who do not have a child during their teen years.3 One-third
of teenage mothers never get a G.E.D. or a diploma.4 Moreover, less than 2% of young teenage mothers attain a college degree by the age of 30.
Thanks to the ACLU, young women attending the Delhi Charter School will have a chance to complete their education, go on to college.
Even though we all know how Republicans feel about the equality clause, we also know how much value they say they place on the pride of work. Since education and job opportunities go hand in hand, one would think that Bobby Jhindal and other conservatives would be pleased. Right? Ok, maybe that is asking just a bit too much.
When you consider that the GOP is also opposed to sex education, and is pro life until birth, the prospect of them supporting a policy that would solve a problem is too much to ask.