Pregnant and parenting students face enormous challenges in accomplishing their educational goals. Approximately 70 percent of teenage girls who give birth leave school, and evidence suggests that illegal discrimination is a major contributing factor to this high dropout rate.

Since 1972, the year Title IX was enacted, it has been illegal for schools to exclude pregnant and parenting students. Despite this fact, many schools fail to help pregnant and parenting teens stay in school, and some actually exclude or punish them.

Girls from around the country tell the same stories: When they got pregnant or had a child, a principal, counselor, or teacher told them they would have to leave school. In many cases, pregnant and parenting students are told outright that they cannot stay in school or must go to an alternative school, which all too often means a substandard education. Sometimes the discrimination is more subtle: Schools refuse to give excused absences for doctor’s appointments, teachers refuse to allow makeup work, or staff members exclude students from school activities based on “morality” codes or make disparaging, discouraging, and disapproving comments.

Young people have a right to complete their education regardless of their sex or whether they become pregnant. Students should not have to choose between completing their education and taking care of themselves and their children.

The ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project works to ensure the rights of pregnant and parenting students through advocacy, education, and litigation to investigate and end the push-out of pregnant and parenting students from school.

Resources: Know Your Rights Materials

While the following materials were made by some of our affiliates for state-specific outreach purposes, teens in other states can use these to get a general idea of what their rights are and can reach out to us for assistance if they need to know more specifically what their rights are in their state.

Your Rights as a Pregnant or Parenting Teen in Public School – ACLU-WA wallet card

Investing in the Future – ACLU-NM report

Your Rights as a Pregnant or Parenting Teen – New York Civil Liberties Union palm card

The Rights of Pregnant & Parenting Teens – A 100-page guide to New York State law on the rights of pregnant and parenting teens, produced by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

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