ACLU Challenges Louisiana School Policy That Forces Out Pregnant Students
Policy Also Forces Girls Suspected of Being Pregnant to Undergo an Exam
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NEW ORLEANS – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Louisiana issued a letter today to Delhi Charter School in Delhi, Louisiana in response to a policy that requires female students even suspected of being pregnant to submit to a pregnancy exam and forces them out of school if they are pregnant or refuse to take the test.
“The pregnancy policy violates the rights of every girl at Delhi Charter School,” said Marjorie R. Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana. “Every girl is at risk of being subject to intrusive medical testing, and possibly forced out of school, for reasons that have nothing to do with her education.”
The policy states that if a teacher or administrator suspects a female student of being pregnant the school can require her to have a pregnancy test and even select the physician. If the student is pregnant, according to the policy, “the student will not be permitted to attend classes on the campus of Delhi Charter School…and will be required to pursue a course of home study.”
It further states: “Any student who is suspected of being pregnant and who refuses to submit to a pregnancy test shall be treated as a pregnant student and will be offered home study opportunities. If home study opportunities are not acceptable, the student will be counseled to seek other educational opportunities.”
Delhi’s policy violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clauses of the U.S. constitution. Male students who might also have engaged in sexual activity or be expecting children are not subjected to similar treatment.
“The right to attend school and to participate fully in activities cannot be denied simply because a student is, or may be, pregnant,” said Galen Sherwin of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. “Pregnancy is not a disease, and schools may not treat it that way. The administrators of Delhi Charter School should be ashamed that they seek to deprive students of the benefits of going to school every day.”
The letter asks the school to suspend the policy until it is revised and to notify parents and students of the policy change. If Delhi refuses to incorporate the changes, the ACLU will consider taking further legal action, including filing a lawsuit or a complaint with the appropriate state or federal enforcement agencies.
The letter can be found at www.aclu.org/womens-rights/delhi-charter-school-demand-letter