Louisiana School Eliminates Policy That Forces Pregnant Students Out Of School

August 9, 2012

ACLU Challenged Policy That Also Forces Girls Suspected Of Being Pregnant To Undergo An Exam

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

DELHI, Louisiana – A public charter school said today that it will eliminate a policy that required female students even suspected of being pregnant to submit to a pregnancy exam and forced them out of school if they refused or tested positive. Delhi Charter School President Albert Christman claimed that the policy was intended to protect students from ridicule and harassment. The school rescinded the policy after receiving a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Louisiana.

“Blaming the victim is never the appropriate response to misconduct,” said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana. “If students at Delhi are being harassed, the school’s responsibility is to protect them while ensuring their education. The problem lies with the harasser, not the victim, and it’s wrong for schools to kick students out for reasons that have nothing to do with their education.”

The policy stated 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 plan, “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 stated: “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 violated 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.

“Students who find themselves in the position of becoming a parent should have the option to continue attending classes if that is what they feel is best for themselves and their families,” said Tiseme Zegeye, legal fellow with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “Public schools should not be closing options off to students by denying them the chance to go to school.”

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